Past Event: Stanford GSB Chapter of Hong Kong

Breakfast, Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Speaker Series:

From a Humble Shoe Store to Digital Billboards: Planes Trains & Automatic Toilets
How a Family Company Invented the Street Furniture Advertising Model, Beat the Oligopolies and Created a Global Outdoor Media Giant (and Won China)

08:00    Registration
08:15    Start
09:00    Q&A
09:30    Conclusion
Club Lusitano, 24th floor, 16 Ice House Street, Central, Hong Kong

Early Bird Credit Card/PayPal Pre-Payment of HKD 360 if made by 23:59 Sunday night 9 November. Late Bird Pre-Payment and/or Cash at the Door charge will be HKD 560. To register, PLEASE CLICK HERE. Please bring exact amount if paying in cash as no change will be provided. No refunds for no-shows or post-payment cancellations.

Problems registering or questions?  Please contact Chapter VP Beatrice Wong at

Speaker's Bio
See below

Event Details:
The Stanford GSB Chapter of Hong Kong is pleased to invite you to a breakfast talk with Jean-Charles Decaux, Chairman & CEO of JCDecaux, the world’s largest outdoor advertising group.

JCDecaux’s advertising panels can seem ubiquitous.  In 145 airports, in 276 metro/bus/rail networks, on 222,000 traditional billboards and on self-service bicycle hire systems, bus shelters, citylight panels and more, the JCDecaux name is seen every day on more than 1.1 million advertising panels in 60 countries and in 3,700 cities across the globe, generating USD 3.5 billion in sales (more than 3/4 outside France) and creating nearly USD 7 billion in market cap value. 

Digital advertising, as intelligent cities and urban landscapes expand, will be an increasingly integral element of the preceding, visible in 42.500 digital panels across the globe and in the Group’s advertising street furniture in such cities as Chicago, São Paulo and in the airports of Los Angeles, Boston and Houston, among others. In China, where the Group has been active since 2004, JCDecaux is a rate foreign success and is the country’s largest outdoor media company covering 7 airports, 7 urban metro systems, 10 bus networks and campus advertising in 286 universities. Asia, overall, represents 22.9% of the Group’s total revenues, with China being the Group’s 2nd largest market after France.

How has JCDecaux succeeded in markets where other foreigners have failed? How has it succeeded as an outsider in an industry notorious for insider, non-transparent deals?  How has it taken a presumed commodity – advertising space – and created a highly differentiated and innovative product, creating economies of scale in an industry long considered too “small and local” for either?  Finally, how has JCDecaux performed the almost impossible task of successfully grooming a third generation for the family business and what lessons does it hold for family businesses and succession planning here in Asia?

JCDecaux's story began in Beauvais in 1953. Jean-Claude Decaux, born into a modest family of shoe-shop owners, already believed in the impact of advertising on sales and decided to display advertising posters for the family shop in the city. At the age of 18, as strong competition prevented him from gaining access to urban markets, the young entrepreneur decided to erect large-format roadside billboards on city outskirts, instead. In 1964, however, the French Finance Act imposed higher taxes on roadside advertising displays with a view to reducing their number in the countryside with potentially devastating consequences for the young company.

Instead, this setback led Jean-Claude Decaux to come up with an entirely new kind of innovative advertising platform in its place, - proposing to mayors that JCDecaux provide and maintain urban bus shelters in exchange for the right to place advertising on the same.

From an initial street furniture contract in Lyon in 1964, the company went on to win Paris in 1972 and then began its national and subsequent 1967 international expansion and ascent. While expanding the number of public spaces where advertising could be displayed, the Company also redefined how it was displayed, starting first with electronic information boards and scrolling billboards in the 1980s, then progressing to real time traffic information panels in bus shelters, ultimately creating the multi-panel smart plasma screen billboards one sees today. At the same time, its core street furniture platform, designed by leading designers and architects (including Norman Foster), incorporated such a high level of aesthetics and cleanliness that they became high-value, highly-sought-after additions to urban landscapes in their own right.

Fifty years after its founding, JCDecaux's success continues to be based on the same business model. The number one outdoor advertising company worldwide continues to anticipate lifestyle trends on an innovative outdoor media platform that enriches the cities, transport authorities and airports in which it operates as it continues its internal growth and expansion.

The Stanford GSB Chapter of HK could not be more pleased than to have Jean-Charles share his insights, experience and wisdom on this extraordinary family and its inspiring global story.  We hope you can join us.

Speaker's Bio: Jean-Charles Decaux
Chairman & CEO

Jean-Charles Decaux is Chairman & co-CEO of JCDecaux and one of founder Jean-Claude Decaux’s three sons.

He joined the family firm in 1989 to set up and develop out of home media in countries in Southern Europe. At the age of only 20, he won the ground-breaking contract to provide all of the street furniture for Saragossa, Spain's fifth-largest city – the first ever such contract in the country.

By 1991, he was appointed Managing Director of JCDecaux Spain, based in Madrid and  subsequently established the Group’s Italian operations and strengthened its Portuguese footprint prior to taking over business development in 1994 for all of Southern Europe, Latin America and Asia, leading the Group’s organic expansion in these regions.

Returning to France in 1999 following the acquisition of Havas Media’s outdoor advertising division, Avenir (through which JCDecaux became No.1 in Europe for billboards and No.1 worldwide in transport advertising), Jean-Charles was appointed Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Avenir, JCDecaux Airport and JCDecaux Publicité Artvertising.

In 2000, JCDecaux changed its legal status to that of a Société Anonyme (SA) governed by a Supervisory Board and an Executive Board. Jean-Charles Decaux serves as co-Chairman, alternating with Jean-François Decaux, his brother, spearheading the Group’s 2001 IPO and subsequent role in the global consolidation of the sector, leading JCDecaux to the No. 1 ranking it has held since 2011. In 2004, Jean-Charles led JCDecaux's entry into the Chinese market, followed by other emerging countries where the Group now generates 30% of its revenue.