Publicis boss Maurice Lévy warns Davos that AI mistakes will ‘kill’ brands | M&M Global

Publicis boss Maurice Lévy warns Davos that AI mistakes will ‘kill’ brands

Publicis Groupe chief executive Maurice Lévy has warned that ill-conceived experiments into areas such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) might “kill” brands in the future.

Photo: CNBC International/Twitter
Photo: CNBC International/Twitter

Speaking on CNBC’s Marketing|Media|Money show at Davos yesterday (18 January), Lévy was asked about the potential of AI to revolutionise marketing and commerce.

While praising the innovations emerging from the start-up world, the soon-to-depart Publicis boss warned that the use – and misuse – of data will define brand success and failure in the decades to come.

“I think this is probably the most important […] problem of the future. It’s a problem because of privacy, and we have to be extremely cautious,” said Lévy.

“It’s the new oil of tomorrow. It’s something which will create more goodwill or companies than the brand. It’s something which will create enormous value, and it’s something, also, which can kill companies, because if they don’t know how to use [that data], and they don’t have the right access to the right data, they will miss markets, they will lose market share, and they will miss the relationship with the consumer.”

Lévy was being interviewed alongside Unilever’s top marketer Keith Weed and Salesforce CMO Lynn Vojvodich, in a wide-ranging conversation about the way in which technology is reshaping the industry.

Weed insisted to CNBC anchor Carolin Roth that his team retains a consumer focus, rather than becoming distracted with new gadgets and innovations: “What we’re trying to do is serve a consumer better than the alternative so that they buy our products rather than the alternative. Technology is just a way of doing that better.

“I often say to my team, you know, just because we can, doesn’t mean we should, and so I think you’ve got to continue to challenge that,” said Weed.

Lévy also called for the introduction of industry-wide third party verification, stating that no players could currently claim to be doing a “very good job”.

Separately, Lévy confirmed during an interview with Bloomberg that his successor – to be announced in the coming weeks – will be promoted from within Publicis Groupe.

With speculation mounting that Publicis Communications boss Arthur Sadoun is being lined up to replace Lévy, he said the next CEO would be “someone from the inside” of the company.

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