Publicis CEO Levy's New Year Message Is a Trip Through His Inner Hall of Mirrors

Last Updated Jan 13, 2010 11:29 AM EST

Publicis (PUB) CEO Maurice Levy is quite a good actor, it turns out. France's silver fox sent a New Year message to his staff in the form of a video (see below), the conceit of which is that he narrates his "real" thoughts as he types a soulless letter to the troops consisting entirely of management cliches.

The video is titled "Inside Maurice Levy," and it begins with the him fussing over how to write the first line (just like a real writer!):

I'm always starting with "Bonjour." Maybe I should try to be closer to the people. Maybe, Dear friends? No. Dear everyone? No.
He types "Bonjour" and then "2009 is coming to an end." His narration ads:
... and I must say it's not too soon. What a hell of a year. We had to face the financial crisis, budget cuts, hiring freeze, the salary freeze, ...
None of this makes it into the letter. (He doesn't mention the 2,500 jobs that were lost, either). Instead he writes, "despite the difficult context of this year we have been able to lead many new initiatives, for example the acquisition of Razorfish."

At this point, Levy pounds his fist into his palm, and says, "Now good luck for all our competitors to try to catch up!" Surely that's a coded message to WPP (WPPGY)'s Martin Sorrell, his most-hated foe, whom he beat for that acquisition.

He writes, "The group found itself in a strong position" and then says:

I mean the company, because I know that on a personal level it has been a bit of a struggle for everyone.
The main impression the video gives is that Levy seems to be operating at three or more levels of meta-remove from reality: Given that the video is obviously scripted, we know that behind the corporate-speak memo and Levy's scripted asides, there is a third level consisting of Levy's actual, real, unscripted thoughts. Confusing!