Publicis Groupe’s pre-Cannes Lions film mocking ad industry leaders for talking constantly about artificial intelligence has angered some of the companies featured in it. 

It is understood that Susan Credle, the chair of FCB, contacted Publicis in a personal capacity to ask to be removed from the film after publication, as she had not given permission for her image to be used. 

Some other agency groups featured in the 110-second video, are also known to be unhappy.

A second agency leader, Andrew Robertson, chief executive of BBDO, is believed to have asked to be removed and was edited out.

The tongue-in-cheek, “mash-up” film mocks “ad tech bros” such as Sam Altman, chief executive of Open AI, Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive of Meta, and Sundar Pichai, chief executive of Google, alongside the leaders of “holding companies reinventing themselves”, such as Mark Read, chief executive of WPP, John Wren, chief executive of Omnicom, Philippe Krakowksy, chief executive of IPG, and Yannick Bolloré, chief executive of Havas.

Creative leaders such as Rob Reilly, the chief creative officer of WPP, also feature in the film, which includes the line “old Mad Men are pitching a dream”. 

The video closes with the message: “Imagine. If we ALL took the BS out of AI?”

Campaign has spoken to several executives at different agency groups who criticised Publicis’ film, without going on the record. 

“It’s derogatory and damaging to our business,” one source said. “I can’t think of any other industry that would do this [mocking rivals, ahead of its biggest annual conference]. It makes us look like the worst of advertising.” 

A second source also expressed disappointment, saying: “Cannes is meant to be about lifting each other up and representing the best of our industry.” 

A third source described the video as “silly” and “not nice”.

However, a fourth person whose company featured in the video said they were “not bothered”.

Arthur Sadoun, the chairman and chief executive of Publicis Groupe, also appears in the film, plus Carla Serrano, the chief strategy officer, and Maurice Levy, the former chairman.

The French agency group is said to have contacted the companies that feature in the film ahead of publication and told them it hoped they found the video “funny”.  

Publicis also launched a lighthearted “BS Bot Detcector” to cut through the “hype” of AI, along with another promotional film, ahead of Cannes Lions.

Publicis, which has been the best perfomer of “the big six” agency groups in recent years, previously announced a €300m (£254m) investment in AI in January.

A person close to Publicis Groupe acknowledged there had been some negative reaction, alongside positive feedback. 

Sadoun said in a statement: “We did this film with humour to call out the industry, starting with ourselves by overrepresenting Publicis. We used the power of creativity and our continued belief and confidence that we can all still laugh at ourselves. 

“This is exactly how we reacted seven years ago when we launched Marcel [an internal staff platform that used Af]. The industry laughed and so did we. We’re sorry if some anonymous sources cited in your article didn’t like this film. The good news is that from the feedback we’ve had, many others did.  

“But I think we can all agree that if we, as a creative industry, don’t cut the BS from AI, the platforms aren’t just going to take our place on the Croisette. They’ll eat our breakfast, lunch and dinner with a glass of rosé.”

AI is expected to be a major theme at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, which runs from today (17 June) until 21 June this year, with Open AI among the companies speaking.

Sadoun was one of six agency bosses who wrote for Campaign ahead of the festival about making the case for creativity in the age of AI, and he maintained Publicis had taken a lead by investing in technology while some rivals spent money on share buybacks.

This article originally appeared on Campaign UK.