Publics Groupe will take a year off from any awards programs or promotional investments, including the industry's biggest annual festival in Cannes, to shift its spend toward a new AI-powered professional assistant platform.
"All investments and focus" from across the group will go toward the platform, named Marcel after the company's founder Marcel Bleustein-Blanchet, said Publicis Groupe CEO Arthur Sadoun. "No promotional events. We're serious about that. No Cannes next year," he said.
The platform, which is in the process of being built internally, will allow all 80,000 employees across 200 disciplines in 130 countries to stay connected, identify project opportunities they want to work on in different markets and anticipate clients' needs with its predictive behaviors.
Marcel is expected to take a year of development, including figuring out the financial structure and getting HR involved to plug every employee's profile into the system. Publicis.Sapient will build out a lot of the technology, but the group may look for outside partners to help with specific areas, like AI.
Sadoun said "transformation" may be a "stupid buzz word" around Cannes this year, but it's what everyone is trying to figure out. Marcel "will take up a lot of our time, money and energy, but we believe if we don't build this at the heart of our organization we will never be able to transform in the right way and make sure our people progress," he said.
The industry also needs a new model to fulfill client needs, Sadoun added, saying he's "nervous and excited" about the project.
Publicis Communications North America CEO Andrew Bruce said Marcel is an "obvious and important move" given the way everyone already interacts and collaborates on digital platforms. He said combining that with Publicis Groupe's talent and capabilities is an efficient way to marry everything together.
As for how the team feels about no work going up for awards, Bruce said he agrees with Mark Tutssel, global chief creative officer of Leo Burnett Worldwide and Publicis Communications' global creative board leader, who said it's 365 days to focus on getting it right. Bruce said the group needs to be "unbelievably efficient in our investments," and he's behind the decision.
Carla Serrano, chief strategy officer of Publicis Groupe, said the company's "Power of One" model of working without silos has been great, but something was missing "because it's not tech-enabled and you can't do predictive casting or be anticipatory in terms of what comes next."
She added that Marcel will also be great for talent and give employees around the world the chance to work on projects they wouldn't have been able to before.