Publicis Groupe, the French agency group, will celebrate its 90th anniversary this year by mentoring and funding 90 digital start-ups. The Publicis90 initiative is open to start-ups that and will be regionally selected from the Americas, APAC and EMEA. The selected projects will be mentored by Publicis Groupe experts in marketing, communications, management and technology. They will also receive cash investments ranging from 10,000 euros for projects about to be launched to 500,000 euros for start-ups that already have traction.
The 90 selected projects will be honored at an awards ceremony held at an event in Paris in June. Maurice Lévy, Chairman and CEO of Publicis Groupe, said, “Publicis90 is very much in line with the philosophy of Publicis Groupe and its founder, Marcel Bleustein-Blanchet. The idea is to help young entrepreneurs achieve their goals. Not just through investment but also by putting Groupe resources at their disposal for a year. Rather than look back and pat ourselves on the back for 90 years of history, we have taken the forward-looking approach of extending a helping hand to young entrepreneurs.”
Remarkably, Levy is only the company’s second CEO in its 90 year history. The company was founded by Marcel Bleustein-Blanchet in 1926 in a small apartment above a butcher’s shop. In 1935, he purchased a radio station which he renamed ‘Radio Cité’, where he introduced France’s first news broadcasts as well as its first radio jingles. Radio Cité is also credited with helping to launch the career of singer Edith Piaf. Bleustein-Blanchet also invented radio advertising in France, helped create the first French opinion polls and fought with the Free French forces during World War II.
The legend has it that Levy was selected as Bleustein-Blanchet’s successor following a fire at Publicis Groupe’s offices on the Champs-Élysées in 1972. Levy – then with the company barely a year as an ran back into the offices to rescue programs, data, tapes and discs of all accounting information, which had all been backed up on magnetic tape. Levy’s loyalty impressed Bleustein-Blanchet so much that he went he supposedly annointed Lévy his successor, although he didn’t hand over the reins until 1987.
Since then, Levy has been responsible for the Publicis’s international expansion, particularly since 2000 with the acquisitions of Saatchi Saatchi & Saatchi and Bcom3, as well as the company’s focus on digital as early via the acquisitions of Digitas, Performics, Razorfish, Rosetta and LBi. In 2014 Publicis Groupe by acquiring Sapient, which helped move the group towards consulting and marketing services. group to 76,000 people spread across 108 countries.