Digital Strategy Paying Off for Publicis

NY Times, 3/27/11

PARIS — When Microsoft this month awarded a big chunk of its North American advertising account to Publicis Groupe, the Paris-based marketing company, the news felt like vindication for the chief executive of Publicis, Maurice Lévy.

In the tradition-bound advertising industry, Mr. Lévy has been one of the strongest advocates of new digital forms of marketing, and he has backed up his words by writing big checks. Five years ago, he spent $1.3 billion of Publicis shareholders’ money to buy Digitas, an Internet advertising agency, prompting rivals and some analysts to sneer that he had paid too much. Yet Mr. Lévy pushed ahead, adding other digital agencies, including Razorfish for $530 million in 2009.

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