Publicis Groupe Creates Global CMO Position

The shutdown of the ad world caused by the coronavirus pandemic hasn't stopped one agency holding company from creating a top executive-level post.

Publicis Groupe today promoted Justin Billingsley, its president over Germany, Austria and Switzerland (DACH), to the newly created role of global chief marketing officer, where his responsibilities will include product development and marketing, client transformation, new and organic growth, and internal and external public relations and communications. The company said his immediate priority would be partnering with Publicis's global account leads and with clients directly "to ensure they are recovery ready, for today and tomorrow's 'next normal.' "

Billingsley will continue his role as chairman of Publicis Emil and Publicis One Touch, the bespoke agency networks for Mercedes-Benz and Nivea, respectively. Under Billingsley's leadership, DACH won both those accounts. Prior to joining Publicis a decade ago as CEO for Saatchi & Saatchi Greater China, Billingsley held senior marketing jobs at brands including Nokia and Coca-Cola.

Publicis this month reported a net revenue increase of 17 percent in Q1 but a 2.9 percent drop in organic revenue, as Ad Age reported. At the same time, the company announced that due to the pandemic's impact on its business, chairman and CEO Arthur Sadoun and Maurice Lévy, chairman of the supervisory board, would take a 30 percent pay cut while other top managers had their salaries reduced by 20 percent.

While stressing in an interview that there had been no layoffs at Publicis, Sadoun said that every country leader would "curate" cost-cutting plans, adding: "The world has been through many global crises, but nothing like the one we are facing today. I have no doubt we will overcome the crisis."

Publicis recently launched an AI platform in the U.S. called Marcel, which, it said, enables employees working remotely at the moment to post available jobs on assignments and projects throughout the organization to maximize efficiency and workflow.

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