Advertising Interviews

Jean-Yves Naouri

COO | 18 Jan 2013

Our aim is to strengthen our position India. We have announced a while ago that we want to make India a clear area of focus and we want to double the size of our operations. We are focused right now to give enough power and resources to our agencies here for us to achieve this target figure.

As the Chief Operating Officer of Publicis Groupe, Jean-Yves Naouri is second only to Maurice Levy in the leadership role he plays in the company. Naouri joined Publicis Groupe in 1993 as a founding partner of Publicis Consultants, a subsidiary specialising in strategic and corporate communications. Over the years, his responsibilities grew and included overseeing Publicis Healthcare Communications Group (since July 2008), as well as the Publicis Groupe Production Platforms (May 2009).

In the two decades that he has spent with the company, more was added to Naouri’s plate. Some of the other designations adjoined with his name are Executive Chairman - Publicis Worldwide, Chairman - Publicis Groupe China, Member of the Publicis Groupe Executive Committee and Member of the Publicis Groupe Management Board (Directoire).

In conversation with Noor Fathima Warsia, Naouri speaks on his vision for the group’s India operations, recent acquisitions and the road ahead.

Q. To double your size in a market such as India in just five years is a reasonably aggressive target – do you think that would help you become the No. 2 holding company in India?

I don’t think that at this stage, ranking is going to be very essential from our point of view. Our aim is to strengthen our position India. We have announced a while ago that we want to make India a clear area of focus and we want to double the size of our operations. We have done this in some of the other markets and we are committed to make it happen in India as well. We are focused right now to give enough power and resources to our agencies here for us to achieve this target figure.

Q. There are various conversations in the context of Publicis Groupe agencies in India. Has the growth been as per expectations?

Unfortunately for our agencies, I am very demanding. I can tell you that I am pleased to be here and with the progress we are making. But we want more. We are pushing for the next level of growth in India in a very concerted fashion and we are encouraging our teams to attain the goals that we have set for ourselves. This is part of inspiration – you should always try and reach for the stars and that is what we are trying to do in India right now.

Q. One route you have taken for that is acquisitions, and some of your competition say that a few of the recent acquisitions in India were overpriced...

We are not known to overprice. Everyone has their own expectations and we will make sure that we do not let down people whom we want to partner. But Publicis Groupe is known to be extremely conservative. We are keen to bring the best talent because we want to make sure we anticipate our clients’ expectations. Talent is the key point for us when we look to acquire a company. But I must state here that there are multiple examples of situations even when competition has offered higher price to a company we want to acquire and the company’s management still wanted to join us and has aligned with us instead.

Q. You have acquired various companies in different domains in India. What are some of the other areas of growth we will see you in?

We have acquired companies in PR, Healthcare, Digital, Activation and we will continue to invest in multiple areas such as shopper marketing and so on. We will do everything else that is required to strengthen the presence of our clients’ brands. We are firm believers and early ones at that in a holistic approach to communication and you will see us investing in that direction.

Q. Are you in a position to give us some of your plans for 2013?

We have not yet finalised budgets and hence, I cannot give a clear sense of the kind of commitment or target growth numbers. But on a broad note, our focus is our people. And we don’t have to motivate them because they are highly motivated and very aware of our long term target for India. They want to make sure they provide clients in India with the best service and our steps in 2013 too would be to support them in this endeavour.

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