Starts Stand-alone Unit Denuo to Explore Emerging Media

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NEW YORK ( -- Publicis Groupe -- already known in the advertising and marketing world as a media innovator -- today unveiled its latest novel approach to the fast-changing worlds of digital, interactive and mobile communications. The French holding company is opening Denuo, a stand-alone business unit focused on emerging media.
Tim Hanlon

The new unit offers clients strategic consulting; partners with and invests in new ventures and individuals in emerging media; and provides resources to clients to actually activate new ventures’ marketing plans.

Tobaccowala to lead
Heading Denuo (which translates as “fresh” or “new” from Latin) is CEO Rishad Tobaccowala, most recently chief innovation officer of Publicis Groupe Media, the unit that oversees the holding company’s multiple media networks.

Nick Pahade, formerly president of WPP Group’s Beyond Interactive and managing director of Mediacom Digital, is the new entity’s president. Publicis Groupe media executive Tim Hanlon is responsible for ventures and partnerships as Denuo’s senior VP.

Counseling a digital world
Denuo’s launch is in many ways a response to current marketplace needs. New technologies, the Internet’s growing global use and the continuing infiltration of broadband connections in households allow consumers to connect with the world without using traditional sources such as TV and newspapers. These changes are forcing media companies as well as start-up companies in emerging fields to rethink how they approach advertising.

That’s where Denuo’s leaders believe their opportunity lies. “We would argue that there’s a dearth of wise counsel and intelligence when it comes to understanding how advertising and marketing messaging will play out in the face of all these new media challenges,” said Mr. Hanlon. “We think a lot of the future is not from incumbent, leviathan companies, but from smaller, entrepreneurial firms.”

But in order for those entities to succeed, they need to tackle some big issues. One example: How should a firm such as a Brightcove, which helps producers distribute their videos to multiple Web sites, generate revenue? Should Brightcove sell advertising, or simply take a cut of ads sold by a different entity? “I’m not saying the ad industry cannot learn a few new tricks,” Mr. Hanlon said. “But there’s clearly some wisdom to be found in how our world works.”

‘All shapes and sizes’
Denuo is already working with current Publicis Groupe media network clients, such as General Motors and Coca-Cola Co. But Mr. Hanlon emphasizes that the unit intends to work with companies of “all shapes and sizes,” not just traditional marketers. “Talent agencies, or law firms focused on advertising issues, production houses ... anyone involved in this new media thinking ... everybody’s part of the future,” he said.

Mr. Hanlon’s specific area of focus is developing relationships with companies and individuals involved in finding new ways to connect with consumers. He currently has advisory responsibilities to five young “new media” companies, including Brightcove, BlackArrow,, Reactrix and Lightening Cast. Denuo and Publicis Groupe have not invested financially in any of these businesses, but, Mr. Hanlon said, “the threat of investment for us is clearly there.”

The bottom line
As for how Denuo generates revenue, Mr. Hanlon remained mum. “We’ll figure it out. As with any consulting firm, there are a number of ways to get paid.”

Denuo now has two U.S. offices, one in Chicago and one in New York. It will also expand globally, with offices in Asia and Latin America. Fifteen people from within Publicis Groupe as well as from the outside are on staff. These include Tim Harris and PJ MacGregor, founding members of Publicis Groupe’s online and video game unit, Play; Tom Tercek, founder of SMG Access; Courtney Jane Acuff, founder of Digits wireless; and Dan Buczaczer, founder of the word-of-mouth shop Reverb.

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