- Arthur Sadoun is the new CEO of Publicis Groupe and he has already made a splash by forbidding, with no exceptions, all agencies within the holding company from participating in awards shows, trade shows or any other paid promotional activities for a year per Adweek.
- An internal memo from CEO Frank Voris of Publicis Groupe’s financial services unit, Re:Sources, reported by Adweek outlined a 2.5% cost savings for 2018 that the ban should help with. The ban comes after an earlier announcement from Sadoun that Publicis’ “Power of One” strategy includes the firm acting more like a platform instead of an agency network.
- The news of the ban came on the same day Publicis announced Marcel, an artificial intelligence (AI) driven professional assistant platform via a press release. Marcel will allow the firm to connect people with different skill sets – such as designers with data scientists, robotics with retail specialists, consultants with creators – to serve its clients more easily. The press release referenced Publicis shifting its promotional budget from industry events to focus its investment.
The Marcel platform is designed to connect 80,000 employees across 200 disciplines in 130 countries bringing something akin to an organized-by-AI decentralization of talent across the firm. AI and machine learning have been playing a larger role in marketing over the past year. Voice-enabled digital assistants have been embraced for consumer-facing engagements while, behind the scenes, the technology is helping build multiply versions of creative on the fly. The Publicis announcement is interesting because it points to another potential use of AI technology — matching talent across increasingly complex holding groups to ensure clients are getting the biggest bang for their buck.
Marcel could help Publicis better compete for and retain business against a backdrop of upheaval in the traditional agency world. The agency model is under fire with brands looking for cost savings and issues around transparency, as well as increasing competition from brands taking marketing and advertising activities in-house and major management and financial consultancies forming digital services divisions and directly vying for business that had once been the exclusive domain of agencies.
The awards show ban similarly reflects the changes afoot in the agency space, as submitting campaigns to these competitions has typically been a big focus for agencies with the winners prominently broadcasting their successes to clients and the broader industry as a competitive advantage. It’s interesting that in one his first major moves as CEO, Sadoun was willing to completely shake up how Publicis has conducted business as one of the major agency holding companies.
WPP, one of Publicis’ peers, has been undergoing changes of its own recently with a series of announcements of restructuring within its agency network.