Chairman of the Supervisory Board, Publicis Groupe
Maurice Lévy is Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Publicis Groupe, the world’s third largest advertising and communications group with the purpose of creating transformational impact through the alchemy of creativity and technology. Founded in 1926, Publicis Groupe counts today over 80,000 talented employees and is present in over 100 countries around world.
Maurice Lévy joined Publicis in 1971, as the Director of IT. He very quickly moved into the heart of the agency’s business: advertising and marketing. Recognizing that top clients require a full range of communications services, he began to build up a comprehensive group of specialized and general service agencies and subsidiaries in France and throughout Europe. Mr. Lévy took personal responsibility for the international development of the Groupe and successfully managed a program of sustained international expansion that today offers Publicis Groupe’s clients in 108 countries a complete range of integrated communication, advertising marketing and media services.
He became Chairman of Publicis Conseil, the founding agency of the Groupe, in 1984, and was later named CEO of Publicis Groupe in 1987, thus becoming the company’s second CEO since 1926, after Marcel Bleustein-Blanchet.
All throughout his career, Maurice Lévy has driven the Groupe through various important strategic phases. In the early 2000s, several decisions of far-reaching importance accelerated the transformation of the Groupe, beginning with the consecutive acquisitions of Saatchi & Saatchi in 2000, and Bcom3 in 2002, the American holding company including Leo Burnett Worldwide, Starcom MediaVest, and several specialized communications agencies, notably in healthcare.
As early as 2006, in the face of an eminent transformation, Maurice Lévy, ever the visionary, anticipated the magnitude of these mutations in society, ones that would eventually lead to digital infiltrating the everyday life of both individuals and businesses.
This same year, he initiated the friendly acquisition of the leading digital pure-player in the United States, Digitas. This acquisition was the first sign of an important turn in the Groupe’s strategy. Soon after, placing particular importance on the digital tools and methods of communicating, Maurice Lévy positioned Publicis Groupe as“The Human Digital Agency,”the digital agency with a human face, combining emotion and technology.
Since as early as 2007, Mr. Lévy has continually pioneered strategic partnerships with new media players at the time such as Google, Yahoo!, AOL, Adobe, Microsoft and Facebook. Conscious of the necessity to react swiftly to the rapid transformation brought on by digital, Maurice Lévy accelerated the implementation of his digital strategy through a succession of major acquisitions.
Performics from Google in 2008, Razorfish from Microsoft Corp in 2009, followed by Rosetta in 2011, each adding to the foundation of Publicis Groupe’s expertise that would be, from now on, largely oriented towards the technologies of the future.
The Groupe’s stature and expertise in the digital ecosystem was emphasized in 2011, when French President Nicolas Sarkozy tasked Maurice Lévy with organizing the eG8 Forum, a milestone conference of 1500 leading Internet professionals that advised the May 2011 G-8 summit meeting in Deauville on priority measures to encourage the digital economy.
In 2012, further highlighting Publicis Groupe’s leadership in the crucial, fast-moving digital sector, Maurice Lévy and the Groupe facilitated the acquisition of digital agency LBi, leading in 2013 to the formation of DigitasLBi, the world's leading fully integrated digital agency network. In 2014, the acquisition of Nurun followed suit.
In 2013, Mr. Lévy initiated the talks with Omnicom CEO John Wren, which led to the eventual project of creating the world’s largest holding company in the field of advertising and marketing services. The choice to abandon this project was mutually agreed upon by both parties, allowing Maurice Lévy a new opportunity to perfect his strategy.
In 2014, the major acquisition of Sapient and the creation of the unrivalled global platform, Publicis.Sapient, bringing together the biggest digital players of both Publicis Groupe and Sapient, opened new channels for growth for Publicis Groupe, beyond its core activities, towards marketing, omnichannel commerce and consulting.
With this strategic move, Maurice Lévy propels the Groupe into the Internet-dominated world, in which it would become one of the ten most prominent companies in the world. Uncontested global leader of digital communications and marketing, Publicis Groupe is today the partner of choice for businesses to accompany them throughout their own digital transformation, in order to avoid the threat of being “uberized.”
In 2016, to celebrate Publicis Groupe’s 90th anniversary, Maurice Lévy was determined to look to the future rather than the past, keeping in line with Publicis’ pioneering spirit. The result was two initiatives – Publicis90, through which Publicis Groupe invested in 90 promising startups and Viva Technology Paris, a global event dedicated to the collaboration between large companies and startups.
On June 1, 2017, Maurice Lévy handed the "keys to the future" to Arthur Sadoun who would succeed him as Chairman & CEO of Publicis Groupe. Maurice Lévy was voted in by the shareholders on May 31, 2017 as Chairman of the Supervisory Board of the Groupe.
Largely recognized internationally as one of the most important players in the communications industry, Maurice Lévy presides over several organizations and institutions. In 2005, Mr. Lévy co-founded the French Institute for Brain and Spinal Cord disorders (ICM), and remains involved in its development. He has also served on the French Government Commission to Combat Drug Addiction, as well as the Advisory Committee of the Banque de France. In 2006 he co-chaired the French Commission on Intangible Assets, which delivered an influential policy report. From 2004 to 2013 he served on the Foundation Board of the World Economic Forum in Geneva, and from 2009 to 2012, he was President of the Association Française des Entreprises Privées (French Association of Private Companies), which represents the top 100 private companies in France. He was previously president of the Palais de Tokyo, a member of the board of Deutsche Bank from 2006 to 2012, and a member of the Supervisory Board of La Compagnie Financière Edmond de Rothschild from 2011 to 2013. In January 2014, Mr. Lévy was nominated Chairman of International Board of Governors (IBoG) of the Peres Center for Peace & Innovation, as well as the first chairman of the Media, Entertainment and Information (MEI) Board, a division of the World Economic Forum. In October 2015, Maurice Lévy was appointed President of the Pasteur-Weizmann Council. Mr. Lévy is also President of the Supervisory Board of Iris Capital, a pan-European venture capital investor specialized in digital, and a member of the board of Jana Mobile.
Mr. Lévy holds the distinctions of Commandeur of the French Légion d’Honneur and Grand Officier of the Ordre National du Mérite. In the last 10 years, Maurice Lévy has received many distinctions and accolades*.
Born in 1942 in Oudja, Morocco, Maurice Lévy has been married for over fifty years, and has three sons and six grandchildren. His interests include modern and contemporary art, antiques, chess and skiing.
A selection of distinctions and accolades: 2004 the Scopus Award from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the Benjamin Franklin Award by the French American Foundation in New York (2004 & 2009), International Leadership Award of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) for his commitment to promoting tolerance and diversity (2008), France’s “Best Manager of the Year” at the BFM Awards (2011), University of Tel Aviv Honorary Degree of Doctor Philosophiae Honoris Causa (2013), Le Grand Prix des Agences de L’Année “Communications Man of the Year” (2008) and “The Leader of the Decade” (2013), GQ Magazine “Business Man of the Year” (2013), Institutional Investor Magazine “Europe’s Best CEO” in the media industry (2009, 2010, 2013), “Diversity Pioneer Award” from the American Advertising Federation (2014), the highest distinction given at this occasion.
Last Updated: February 2019
Inductee, 2019 Advertising Hall of Fame