- Interview -
Who really is
Yannick Bolloré ?
We are ushered into Yannick Bolloré’s offices on the top floor of a tower in Puteaux. At the head of the world’s sixth largest communication group, this brilliant, super-friendly 39-year-old is CEO of Havas and Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Vivendi. Having agreed to this rare interview, he is prepared to discuss business, communication, television, music and passions.
Yannick Bolloré, you represent the seventh generation of your family group. Which values have been passed on to you?
Undoubtedly those that are human-centered, including respect. Speaking of human relationships, I remember my grandfather telling me that you have to be strong with the strong and gentle with the weak. The other key value involves knowing how to be patient by looking at the long term. This is indeed part of the inherent nature of large family groups.
They say you are a communications genius. How did you acquire this reputation?
There are people who have inspired me enormously and above all there is the excellent work generated by the team I head. Without it, the group would not have the success it now enjoys.
Do you think being Vincent Bolloré’s son has facilitated your career?
Yes, and I can only be happy about that. This privilege has brought me a lot, notably rapid access to important positions.
Vivendi is a shareholder in Universal Music, the world’s leading music group. The music industry has recovered from the dark years, but where do things stand at the moment?
After 17 years of decline, the music industry has experienced a tremendous renaissance over the past two years, driven by streaming offers (Deezer, Spotify, Apple, etc.) Streaming has become the leading source of revenue ahead of physical album offers. In this industry, we are currently enjoying a positive context and the future is very promising.
Television is a rapidly changing sector. What is your analysis of this industry?
The TV market has evolved enormously. Distribution and consumption patterns have changed. People watch TV on various screens and choose programs à la carte. There are also new competitors from all over the world who are investing heavily in their programs. We must therefore face up to all these new parameters.
What is your strategy for your Canal+ and C8 channels?
Vivendi is a shareholder of Canal+, which is the largest French audiovisual group and one of the largest in Europe. The teams did a fantastic job of adapting Canal+ to the new paradigms with the implementation of an app: My Canal. It allows subscribers to receive all TV channels on any device at any time. The second point is the international market. With Vivendi, we are supporting Canal+ with a plan to acquire channels, particularly in Africa and Europe. As far as C8 is concerned, this all-rounder channel mainly offers live broadcasts and is doing very well.
As a professional in the sector, what would you say ”good communication” means today?
The real challenge is to run a communication campaign on all types of screens. You have to be present on social media, which are now more popular than television. These are new forms of storytelling and communication. It is essential for us to offer the best solutions to our customers while using data that allow us to carry out targeted high-performance campaigns.
You are based in Paris but often traveling. Which is the place that most inspires you?
From a business and economic standpoint, it would probably be China, which is constantly making huge progress. Culturally speaking,I would say Jerusalem, which has an extremely special atmosphere and energy; and as a country, Egypt with its incredible riches.
How do you manage to unwind?
I have four daughters at home from five to 15 years old and it is a real pleasure to spend time with them. In order to relax, I need to be involved in sports activities. Even if I don’t do as many as I would like, I run and play tennis and I have discovered meditation which brings me a lot of serenity, calm and a certain equilibrium.
Freedom is the theme of this magazine; when do you feel it?
Five years ago, I bought a boat and it’s a real form of freedom. Not knowing where I will cast anchor at night and sleep under the stars with my wife and children pleases me profoundly. I should mention that I have maritime ancestors, so maybe it’s in my genes! (laughs).
What is your motto in life?
I like the Norman Vincent Peale quote often attributed to Oscar Wilde: “Shoot for the moon; even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars”. I find this sentence very poetic and so true! There is another one, Mark Twain’s “They did not know it was impossible, so they did it”. The ability to propel ourselves ever higher and ever further, to move forward despite all the road-bumps we can encounter, is an idea that appeals to me! Always aim as high as possible, it’s the best way to progress.
Based on an interview by Anouk Julien-Blanco
Photos © F. Beloncle et © A. Meyssonnier