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John Farrell

John Farrell


Outgoing president and chief executive, Publicis Groupe, SAMS Worldwide.


Publicis Groupe

Work Telephone

+44 (0)20 7462 7405


80, Charlotte Street, London, , W1A 1AQ


London, England, some time ago.

Career highlights

Account executive, manager, director, IMP, 1980-84; founder, director, FKB, 1985; managing director, IMP, 1986-89; chief executive, IMP Worldwide, 1989-1993; chairman and chief executive, DMB&B Group London, 1993-96; president and chief executive, DMB&B North America, 1996-99; chief executive worldwide, DMB&B, 2000-03; president and chief executive, Publicis Groupe, SAMS Worldwide, 2004-present.

Most cringeworthy moment of your career

Finding someone's breakaway plan in their handwriting on top of their desk.

Best thing about your job

Learning from Maurice Lévy – still slightly sycophantic, but true all the same.

Worst thing about your job

Occasional, pointless political e-mail wars about stuff with no bearing on clients.

Advice for a wannabe A Lister

Be yourself, and if that doesn't work, improve yourself.

If you could be anyone else in this business, who would it be?

Lee Clow. I'd love to have all that creative talent and live somewhere warm.

What would you do on a sabbatical?

Improve my top-spin backhand, develop a soft draw off the tee and invest even more time in trying to encourage my children to live at home forever.

Your USP?

I get companies to make more money than they use to, or, in some cases, ever believed they could.

What would you change about yourself?

My cardio fitness levels – I'd love to spend less time in the gym.

Favourite media

The Times, The Economist, Match of the Day, Radio 5 Live, It's a Small World.

Favourite shop

Harvey Nichols – you can get everything you want done

What’s the biggest lie you’ve told?

How many academic qualifications I had when I was first looking for a job.

How many toilets do you own?


What can’t you live without (apart from family)?

Sadly, my BlackBerry.


News that Farrell is to step down from such a pivotal role within Publicis Groupe (his SAMS operation accounts for more than a third of its revenue) in the middle of next year took lots of people by surprise. Not least because of the key role he's played in the group's acquisition programme. He says he's looking forward to \"the next phase of my professional life\". No clues yet as to what that might be.

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