France's Leading Salesman

The last thing Publicis chairman and CEO Maurice Lévy seemed destined for was advertising stardom. A stern, secretive man in the flamboyant, self-promoting world of advertising, Lévy has quietly transformed Publicis from a family-controlled French agency into a world-wide network, which is now nicely weathering a severe advertising downturn.

In March — as some analysts estimated that last year's ad spending had slumped by as much 9.4% globally — Publicis posted an 18% rise in profits to 1151 million for 2001, fueled in part by 12.43 billion in new business. Despite such success, Lévy maintains...

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