Less is more in world of
‘snacking rather than eating’
PUBLICIS Groupe chairman and CEO Maurice Levy is appearing on stage with feature-film legend Harvey Weinstein, co chairman of The Weinstein Company, in Beyond The Big Screen: The Future Of Storytelling
The two men discuss how Hollywood can transform itself to cope with disruptors such as Netflix, Amazon and The Screening Room, as well as the many connections between Hollywood and the advertising industry.
“On top of companies disrupting the movie industry, we are also seeing TV series delivering great stories in long narrative arcs spread over multiple episodes,” Levy said, speaking exclusively to the Lions Daily News. “But you cannot compete with the unique experience of sitting in a dark room in front of a huge screen. And technologies like 3D and, very soon, virtual reality are an incredibly strong attraction.
So I believe that Hollywood has an excellent future and that there’ll always be emotionally powerful movies, especially when we see young talents like [Canadian actor, director and screenwriter] Xavier Dolan appearing. He’s only 27 but he won the Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival for Mommy, and he’s clearly a great hope for the future.”
In the wake of a train journey from Shanghai to Beijing last year, Levy does, however, believe that Hollywood’s executives have to solve the content-consumption paradigm: “I was sitting between two Chinese travellers and what struck me most powerfully was that they spent most of their time watching videos. But most significantly, everything they watched was a maximum of 15 minutes long. So Hollywood needs to work out how to get the most out of short-form content. I think Harvey is one of the people who can really contribute to that. He has always been quick to embrace new means of distribution and he is a true outsider — a real Mad Man if you like. He’s someone who has made what could be called precarious but genuinely creative choices that were not just about profit. He is a true supporter of the art of cinema and, if anyone can pinpoint how to create movies for mobile phones, it’s Harvey.”
Levy is convinced that despite Hollywood’s current problems, it is in fact the advertising industry that has much to learn from the skilled creatives in Los Angeles: “In fact, the advertising industry owes a lot to Hollywood — not least for the wonderful stories that it has produced that have, in turn, inspired our creative people. But they do need to learn how to shorten their messages, because we live in a world where we are snacking rather than eating, so economy of expression is hugely important.”
In a characteristically original move, Publicis is celebrating its 90th anniversary by funding 90 start-ups.
“I told the team that what I didn’t want was something predictable and self-congratulatory, such as a book or a video,” he said. “But when we were having a brain-storming session, nothing was really clicking. Then one of the team admitted that there was one idea that they hadn’t suggested because they thought I would reject it immediately — and, of course, it was the 90 start-ups concept. I loved it and said yes straight away, and the board of Publicis Groupe also unanimously agreed that it was a great way to celebrate our anniversary while also contributing something of lasting value to the wider world. So on June 30, we are holding a ceremony at which we’ll announce the 90 winners. From then on, we’ll be helping them with seed money and all the support we can offer.”
Levy added that Publicis has received a total of 3,700 entries from more than 50 countries: “Honestly, it was really tough to narrow it down to 90 winners. But overall, it was a fantastic experience, and we were all hugely impressed by the quality and variety of the ideas.”