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“Climate Change Is Fast but We Remain Confident for a Better World”


Publicis Production’s ESG/CSR and global projects lead, Laurence Ferry, on optimism and how she is helping to shape a better future

“Climate Change Is Fast but We Remain Confident for a Better World”

Laurence Ferry has been a part of the Publicis Groupe family since 2007 - holding several leadership roles including MD of Prodigious France and production lead for Europe and Africa. Now, as part of her new role within the Publicis Production global leadership team, she will be leading the Groupe’s responsible production initiatives, bringing years of global operational expertise with her.

Ahead of Earth Day 2023, in this interview with LBB, Laurence outlines the Groupe’s vision and mission within the ESG/CSR space and highlights the key steps to achieving these critical goals.

LBB> You have been a part of Publicis Groupe since 2007, and most recently have joined the leadership team within Publicis Production as ESG/CSR and global projects lead. What is it that you most love about working at the company?

Laurence> My journey with Publicis Groupe started with building out our production network in Europe, before spending five years as MD of Prodigious France, incidentally one of the biggest offices within the Groupe at around 600 employees. I then returned to a European role before Sergio Lopez-Ferrero (global head of production at Publicis Groupe), invited me to be part of the global leadership team. My journey has exposed me to diversity of cultures, points of views and ways of working that I will harness in my new role. 

One of the things I love the most about Publicis is its strong vision and pioneering spirit continuously putting it at the cutting edge of the industry. A spirit that I was lucky enough to bring to life during my many years in production when I launched the Content Factory, and now with our approach to ESG/CSR. 

LBB> You have held several leadership roles in the past and have a lot of operational and ESG expertise. Why is this topic so close to your heart?

Laurence> It’s a topic we cannot ignore. It’s a topic that impacts all our lives and is essential to attracting new talent to our industry. It is an area that is evolving very fast and has for many already become a business imperative. And when it comes to our industry, production is one of the biggest contributors to ESG/CSR: we have one of the biggest carbon footprints but consequently also have one of the biggest levers for change. And interestingly, we can impact not just our footprint but our clients’. With marketing spend becoming part of our clients ESG/CSR roadmap, this represents a real lever for better growth.

LBB> You will be responsible for leading ESG/CSR. How is Publicis helping its clients with ESG goals and initiatives?

Laurence> Publicis has been very active in ESG for a long time. The Groupe signed the UN pledge back in 2003 and has introduced many ESG initiatives across its global network. The challenge we face is in the detail – different local markets have different local regulations. For these reasons, the US is ahead in terms of diversity and inclusion measurement, while in Europe, we face restrictions around tracking personal data, and have  been more focused on sustainability since regulations are imposed on companies to commit to a reduction in carbon emission (in particular following the Paris agreements in 2015).

Our clients are global. So my first objective is to create one solution that works wherever we operate but with the local nuance required to be compliant with local regulations. We must also consider the maturity of those markets, because implementing diversity and sustainability goals requires an ecosystem of vendors and solutions. I’ve kicked this off by creating an inventory of where we stand in each market. Guidelines and a toolkit are made available to each market to support them as they build out their roadmap. This allows markets to catch up in areas they may be falling behind on.

LBB> Why is measuring data such an essential part of this mission?

Laurence> For two main reasons. First, reporting regulations are very strict: any statement needs to be auditable. Reporting obligations related to diversity, inclusion and sustainability will become more and more restrictive, while greenwashing is banned globally. Europe has moved quickly, but it's going to spread everywhere. In time, no company will be able to claim they’ve increased diversity or reduced carbon emission if the claim cannot be audited. The second reason data is so crucial, is that you can only improve what you can measure. It’s all about where you are today and where you want to be in 2030 and beyond. 

LBB> What are the key milestones of your approach towards more sustainable production? 

Laurence> Firstly, we must speak the same language as those making the decisions. Publicis Groupe has developed an e-learning programme to educate and train all stakeholders and participants across the advertising life cycle about their role in lessening environmental impacts. This means extending best practice training to creative and media agencies, as well as production specialists. To date, we have trained 720 client team members and over 4,500 Publicis employees. 

Once we are speaking the same language and understand our clients’ objectives, we can translate their ESG/CSR objectives into production objectives, set KPIs and deliver the data that serves their strategy. These objectives are shared with creative agencies, production teams and third-parties to ensure the entire supply chain is working towards the same goal. 

Secondly, since we work within advertising, we do not want sustainability to limit creativity. It is therefore important for us to anticipate sustainability needs at the start of a project so both creativity and sustainability are kept in mind from the beginning of the production process. We use Publicis Groupe’s proprietary carbon calculator, A.L.I.C.E (Advertising Limiting Impacts and Carbon Emissions) to measure the impact of activities, and also those developed by the industry such as Adgreen or Green the bid, if our clients decide to use them.

We are also bringing our vendors on that journey. We support their efforts towards both sustainability and diversity and inclusion. The Groupe has developed its own vendor assessment platform called P.A.S.S. For vendors which have not yet been assessed by a third-party, P.A.S.S offer them the ability to score their current practices and work to improve them year on year. Using this approach, we support the transformation of our industry.

LBB> We’ve covered sustainability, but what is your answer to more diversity and inclusion within production?

Laurence> Diversity and Inclusion is a slightly more complex topic when it comes to defining objectives and tracking data. Regulations differ greatly from one country to another.

When it comes to the US, we track minority representation in front and behind the camera, and the way budgets are spent with minority-owned vendors. 

This is not possible in most other parts of the world. In these markets, we can support gender equality and social diversity. We do this by partnering with organisations and NGOs that provide access to talent who usually struggle to join our industry. 

LBB> Do you feel optimistic about the future?

Laurence> I'm always optimistic. What makes me optimistic is that everybody is now aware that we need to move in this direction and there is a lot of initiative and energy behind the movement.

Our industry has mobilised. We are not competing against each other, but acting as allies. We are all learning from each other (production guidelines, technology, certifications, etc.) to improve the industry’s position as a whole.

Embracing such values is important to our teams, and even more so to emerging young talent. Everyone is excited to participate in the fight against climate change, and for better representation and diversity.

Being part of Publicis is a huge opportunity, and having this topic elevated to the production leadership team is more than encouraging!

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Publicis Worldwide, Thu, 20 Apr 2023 10:33:03 GMT