Why One of the Biggest Media Companies Is Skipping Every Major Event and Conference

Author: David McMillin       

“Everyone who’s anyone is going to be there.” That’s the rationale that guides plenty of companies when it comes to making decisions about participating in major events and conferences — especially big-name events like CES, Cannes, and SXSW. However, Publicis Groupe, a global media conglomerate, won’t be appearing at any face-to-face events next year. A leaked internal memo from CEO Frank Voris of the company’s financial services division, Re:Sources, makes it clear that as part of a cost-cutting strategy, the company will be “eliminating all award/trade shows for the next year.”

“This is mandatory and exceptions will not be approved,” the memo states. “Award/trade show ban is effective for the entire Groupe, not just Re:Sources.”

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Publicis Groupe owns Leo Burnett, Starcom, and a range of other established names in the media and advertising industries, employing nearly 80,000 employees in 130 countries. None of them will be enjoying the perks of participating in big events for the next 12 months. The primary reason for skipping in-person events? Blame it on Marcel. The company also announced that it is building a new artificial intelligence platform called Marcel to help connect employees and anticipate client needs, and it needs to divert money toward AI research and development. “For the next 12 months, we will make Marcel a priority in terms of investment,” said Arthur Sadoun, chairman and CEO of Publicis Groupe. “Because we need to choose our battles, we will pause our investment in festivals, award shows, and industry events.”

The company’s hiatus from the live-events industry comes as other leaders are allocating plenty of money to maintaining a presence at face-to-face events. A recent report from Freeman revealed that 59 percent of CMOs value in-person brand experiences for their ability to create ongoing relationships. While Publicis Groupe’s absence from the events scene may create some concerns in the meetings industry, its hiatus is temporary. In fact, Marcel will make his big debut at a face-to-face event. Sadoun said that the company plans to reenter live events in the middle of 2018 and unveil the platform at Viva Technology in Paris.

Interested in learning more about how other leaders leverage live events? Check out “3 Takeaways From Freeman’s Global Brand Experience Study.”

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