Insight Factory: Its Press Release Was Fluff; Its Mission Is Rock-Solid

Despite All the Jargon, Publicis Shop's Integrated Model Will Please Clients

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Observe the newest in agency models: the rebundled agency. Wait, better call it an unbundled bundle. Or is it a rebundling of heretofore unbundled services on an ad hoc basis? Ah, screw it. Just call it the Insight Factory.
Jack Klues, chairman of Publicis Groupe Media and soon-to-be chairman of the Insight Factory's management board
Jack Klues, chairman of Publicis Groupe Media and soon-to-be chairman of the Insight Factory's management board

Publicis Groupe's newest agency concoction, a full-service offering that will combine creative services from Leo Burnett, media expertise from Starcom MediaVest, and Digitas' digital chops, came into the world last week with a press release that might as well have been written in French, which is a shame because obscured by all the opaque palaver about "open architecture" and "right-size, right-time solutions" is the fact that the concept is an indicator of what marketers are demanding from agencies today: straightforward points of entry into a full range of marketing services.

There's no doubt that clients such as Procter & Gamble, which has told agencies it wants to narrow the number of shops it deals with, are looking for the sort of integrated-marketing approach Insight Factory will strive to provide. What they'll get is a bespoke team responsible for a single client's profit and loss.

"Reducing the number of profit centers and the infighting about who gets what -- which doesn't allow you to do a media-neutral approach -- is a good thing," one advertising consultant said.

Working together
Beyond the gobbledygook, Insight Factory is an attempt to foster better coordination among creative and media services that once sat together in agencies but were pulled apart more than a decade ago. Marketers still need great creative ideas, but a media strategy that knows how and when to hit increasingly elusive consumers with those ideas is a crucial accompaniment. Plus, digital is becoming more and more central.

Given all that, you would be forgiven if you interpreted this as the kind of rebundling many creative agency CEOs have been clamoring for -- and all media-agency CEOs have resisted.

Jack Klues, who chairs Publicis Groupe Media and will be chairman of the Insight Factory's management board, insists it's not that.

"We have three brands who, each in their own right, have distinct and strong marketplace profiles," Mr. Klues said. "It was not our interest to dilute any one of them. The trick with this structure is, it's not about rebundling, but how do you get better collaboration and coordination in a model that respects the individual business units?"

Looking for rebound
You would also be forgiven for thinking this is a way to inject some juice into Leo Burnett. After all, it's a tough time for the global-agency-network model that's smelling increasingly musty, and Burnett hasn't been immune to the problems.

The Chicago-headquartered network has lost several high-profile accounts since 2006, including Maytag, Cadillac and Altoids. It's posted some wins, including Harrah's Caesars brand and a consolidation of the Buick-Pontiac-GMC creative account, but it's hardly been a banner year for the agency. Mr. Klues, a dynamic leader who gets much respect throughout the Publicis network, is the kind of guy who might help it along.

"Jack Klues is very highly regarded by Maurice. ... If Burnett is weak, you put a strong manager in to take care of it," one industry executive said.

Through that lens, the formation of Insight Factory appears reminiscent of another Publicis realignment earlier this year, when a shop in dire need of life support, Fallon, was tied to one of the stronger agencies in the network, Saatchi & Saatchi.

Good for all
Mr. Klues himself brushed off the comparison, saying he genuinely believes the partnership is going to help everyone involved.

"I expect to see mutual benefits for all three participating units. ... Some [clients] want the benefit of a single P&L, which often assures them a 100% pure integrated approach," he said.

The board also will include Tom Bernardin, Chairman-CEO of Leo Burnett Worldwide; Renetta McCann, Global CEO of Starcom MediaVest; and David Kenny, Chairman-CEO of Digitas, which was purchased by Publicis earlier this year.

Publicis USA Makes Digital Move

Company Brings Together Its Dialog and Modem Entities

Publicis USA is launching a mini-network in early 2008 in the hopes of better aligning its marketing services and digital services.

The idea isn't novel. WPP Group marketing-services giant Wunderman, for one, has been busy this year aligning with digital, snapping up interactive agencies around the globe. But it's a sign that Publicis is eager not to be left in the dust.
Susan Gianinno, chairman-CEO of Publicis, North America
Susan Gianinno, chairman-CEO of Publicis, North America

"We made a decision fairly recently that the best thing to do in the U.S. is to keep the brands distinct, but operationally bring more synergy, and bring them closer together," said Susan Gianinno, chairman-CEO of Publicis, North America.

Branded as Publicis Modem & Dialog, the entity will bring together the Publicis Dialog and Publicis Modem brands. Modem, acquired as part of Publicis deal for Digitas earlier this year, was integrated as the digital arm of its Publicis Worldwide agency.

The mini-network will have two main hubs, in San Francisco and New York. Dani Nadel, managing director of Publicis Modem East, will be named president of its East Coast operations, and Michael Smith, managing director of Publicis Modem West, will be president of its West Coast operations.

Ms. Nadel and Mr. Smith will report directly to Ms. Gianinno.

Martin Reidy remains CEO of Publicis Modem and Publics Dialog Worldwide. Debbie Yount, CEO of Publicis Dialog USA and Publicis USA chief holistic officer, will continue in the latter role, focusing more on new business for Publicis Modem & Dialog, among other things.

-- Rupal Parekh