Digital Drives Publicis’ Q1 Success, CEO to Step Down

In its first quarter results, announced today, Publicis credited much of its 8.1 percent year-over-year revenue growth to its digital business, which it said grew 15 percent in that period and now accounts for 27 percent of its overall revenue.

Meanwhile, Chairman and CEO Maurice Levy has announced he intends to step down from his position by the end of 2011, after 40 years with the firm. Speaking with British newspaper the Guardian, Levy said, “My contract is finishing at the end of 2011 and you can say that I will not be seeking a new term.”

During Levy’s time with Publicis, the group has focused heavily on the digital sector, acquiring agencies such as Digitas, and more recently Razorfish.

It’s those digital-focused entities that performed among the best during the first three months of the year, the group said, with Razorfish seeing 8.6 percent growth in revenues. It added that its VivaKi network of agencies experienced “notable improvement” during the quarter, alongside its Healthcare Communications Group (PHCG).

In reference to his potential replacement, Levy reportedly said, “There are strong candidates [inside Publicis Groupe] but it will be up to the board to make the decision and choose. As far as I’m concerned what I can do is make a recommendation which I will do.”

Key client wins for its digital businesses during the first quarter included Electronic Arts and Brazilian sportswear brand Topper, the company said.

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