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Cannes Daily Blog Day Five: Are You There Arthur? It's Me, Marcel
12:30 a.m. Cannes time, Jun 23, 2017
Ask Marcel

It didn't take long for another agency to rib Publicis and its whizbang new system. R/GA waded in with this tweet. Meanwhile, Marcel, the Publicis boutique creative shop was quick to respond -- in character.

12:30 a.m. Cannes time, Jun 23, 2017
Hey Arthur, Tweet Me

Following the fallout from Publicis Groupe's bombshell announcement, Arthur Sadoun sent out the following memo to all 80,000 employees. Expect him to be busy on Monday.

Bonjour,

Cannes is coming to an end, and I think you'll agree that it has been an eventful week!

I wanted to come back to all of you and hopefully bring a bit of clarity from all of the noise.

But before that, I want to personally congratulate the teams whose incredible work has been celebrated so far. We already have several grand prix and campaigns that have had a real impact for our clients thanks to the exceptional talent behind them.

Of course, one of the biggest pieces of news from this week was our announcement of Marcel, the world's first professional assistant powered by AI and machine learning. I know from many of you that there are a lot of questions, so I didn't want the week to end without answering some of the big ones.

First, let me be clear: at Publicis Groupe we stand for great work. The Marcel platform is being created to make that work even better, by developing new types of collaboration that will lead to creativity without borders and without limits. Creativity is our raison d'être and Marcel will allow us to climb higher.

Second, to build this extremely powerful tool, which will allow each and every one of you to fuel our best creative work, we need to focus 100% on making it a reality.

That's why we're shifting our promotional budget to reinvest in our people and the future of our company. So, we are taking a pause from awards shows, festivals and industry events for 365 days. But make no mistake, when that time is done, we will be back stronger than ever before.

Third, I know many of you are asking how our clients are reacting. I'm excited to tell you that their early feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. And it's not just our clients. Other partners have expressed not only their support, but also their belief that this has the power to be transformational. Earlier this week, I was speaking with Twitter CEO and co-founder Jack Dorsey who called our initiative "ambitious and disruptive." He said, "without a doubt, Publicis Groupe's Marcel platform will be a game-changer for the industry."

Finally, nothing great comes easy and we didn't take this decision lightly. But I'm convinced that this is the right move. The only thing that will derail us is a lack of communication. And that's my responsibility. Which is why in the next days and weeks we will provide all of you with more information, Q&A's, updates and opportunities to get involved.

As a first step, starting Monday I will be on Twitter to answer all of your questions - the good, the bad and the ugly - openly and transparently. Be as candid as possible; use a pseudonym, use a friend's account, or get in touch personally ... Whatever you're most comfortable with, I want to hear from you.

Voilà, I can't wait to continue the conversation with all of you.

Amitiés,

Arthur.

--Lindsay Stein

5:00 p.m. Cannes time, Jun 22, 2017
P&G Ponders the Publicis Pull-Out

P&G Chief Brand Officer Marc Pritchard said he hadn't heard from Publicis Groupe CEO Arthur Sadoun about Sadoun's decision to pull out of Cannes and other shows as of Thursday, but planned to talk Friday. "I don't really know what to think of it yet," Pritchard said. "I just really want to understand what he's thinking. I have a lot of confidence in Arthur, so we'll have a good discussion."

The move should be "a wake up call for the Cannes organization," Pritchard said. "We come here to focus on creativity. It's our 15th year. And we get a lot out of it. We see the best creative here and come out inspired. The Cannes organizers ought to step back and take a look at it." Pritchard said that while P&G does use Cannes to meet all its agencies, "We count on it to get inspiration. Where else are you going to get an opportunity to see all the greatest creative from around the world."

But he also noted that he'd told the 4A's earlier this year of his interest in taking all waste out of the agency supply chain. "We need to cut out anything that's not focusing on creative," he said.

Pritchard isn't sure whether P&G might enter awards competitions on its own for Publicis Groupe brands over the next year. The company does take note of what it wins certainly – 17 Lions as of Thursday, much of it for Publicis Groupe's Saatchi & Saatchi work on Tide's Super Bowl ads, he noted.

--Jack Neff

2:36 p.m. Cannes time, Jun 22, 2017
Brand Safety: The New 'Gluten Free'

Brand safety has been a hot Cannes topic both publicly and privately at Cannes. The private discussion is more interesting. Privately, some marketers acknowledge that they left YouTube for a week or three when press reports about ads on "terrorist videos" were at their peak, then quietly piled back in after the heat was off. "We weren't concerned we were going to lose all our customers," said one, acknowledging that it was all about the "reputation risk." Another noted the "headline risk" of having brands appear next to awful video in news accounts. But marketers said the real problem was how little control or knowledge they had about where their ads were appearing, even after the fact. Clearly, though, Google and Facebook have heard the complaints. "After yesterday's meetings, I've decided brand safety is the new 'gluten free,'" said one marketing executive. It may not really be what your brand really needs, but it seems like it's good for you.

--Jack Neff

1:49 p.m. Cannes time, Jun 22, 2017
Why Fly to Cannes When You Can Cycle There in Just Four Days?

There's the over-the-top extravagance of Cannes, much criticized this year. And then there's Marc Fauconnier, pedaling to Cannes on a bicycle. The CEO of FamousGrey Paris/Brussels is part of a group of 25 agency and client execs organized by Belgian TV company Medialaan. Fauconnier says they start in Grenoble, France and spend four days cycling 400 kilometers, climbing steep hills in the Alps. Their unofficial Tour de Cannes ended on Tuesday when they arrived at the festival. "Most of us are exhausted," he reports. "Great way to combine passion for advertising with passion for sports."

--Laurel Wentz

1:48 p.m. Cannes time, Jun 22, 2017
Martin Sorrell on Why Cannes Needs a New Location

WPP CEO Martin Sorrell believes Cannes may not be the best location for the Festival of Creativity. During his sit-down with Ad Age Editor Brian Braiker Thursday morning, Sorrell said, "Coming here is a big effort. I think it could be a more convenient location – New York, London, Paris, and it would get a broader distribution of people, not such a narrow group." As for Publicis Groupe's decision to pull out of all awards shows next year, including Cannes, in order to shift funds to its new AI platform, Sorrell said he understands where the company is coming from, but he knows the creative community within the agencies doesn't appreciate it. "And clients like awards," he added. "They like being given acclaim by their peers." However, Sorrell said Cannes has become way too expensive, noting that WPP sent 500 people this time, as opposed to 1,000 in 2016. So, what does this mean for WPP next year when it comes to Cannes? "The jury is out on that. We're thinking about what we should do," he said.

WPP CEO Martin Sorrell and Ad Age Editor Brian Braiker. Credit: Pat Denton

—Lindsay Stein

8:45 a.m. Cannes time, Jun 22, 2017
Diageo Saves on Cannes

Liquor giant Diageo is so frugal on its Cannes spending that it's a joke. The company is "on a big cost savings drive, which we are being very successful with," said global CMO Syl Saller. "So there is a little bit of joking around, people showing pictures of where they are staying and who is in the worst place is the joke. How cheap can you stay?" Colleagues, she said, are "showing me hovels," she said. "Like mattresses on the floor," added Mark Sandys, who oversees Smirnoff and Diageo's global beer business. "Although I think I win the lowest-cost flight competition," Saller joked. How low? She booked through easyJet.com and scored a flight from London for 76 pounds, she said. Where is all that cost savings going? Well, on Wednesday the company announced it was buying George Clooney's tequila brand, Casamigos, in a deal estimated at up to $1 billion.

—E.J. Schultz

Photos of the Day
Wish you were here? Cannes in the moonlight Credit: Patrick Denton
Even the yachts need a rest sometimes #Cannes Credit: Patrick Denton
McCann senior leaders Alex Lubar and Mark Lund share in the pride of Lions on the terrace of their majestic Majestic hotel perch. (Notice they left room for more...)
Director Will Speck, half of Furlined directing duo Speck and Gordon ("Office Christmas Party," "Blades of Glory" and Cannes Lions winner "World's Biggest Asshole" for Donate LIfe) decided to take a waiter gig at Eden Roc --because he came dressed for the part.