The new offering, which will be rolled out in the first quarter of next year, is a response to the growing demand among major marketers such as Procter & Gamble and Samsung for a single point of contact for multidiscipline campaigns.
Burnett, SMG and Digitas will continue to operate as independent brands, but the will work collaboratively through the new unit on shared clients. Insight Factory will have resources of its own too, although, in the words of Tom Bernardin, chairman-CEO of Leo Burnett, "the details and specifics of which groups of people will physically sit together are yet to be worked out."
He stressed that flexibility is key here and that the precise structure will be built to clients' specifications.
"The beauty of the model," said Mr. Bernardin, "is that we're going to be taking away the [profit and loss]." In effect, rather than having the account sit with either Burnett, Starcom or Digitas, there will be a single-client P&L and a single team leader responsible for that. Mr. Bernardin will sit on the new unit's management board along with Renetta McCann, global CEO of Starcom Mediavest Group, and David Kenny, chairman-CEO of Digitas. "We'll be responsible for making the collaboration happen," Mr. Bernardin said. And if they don't? They'll answer to Jack Klues, chairman of Publicis Groupe Media and chairman of this new board.
Marketers' increased frustration
In finding a way to corral their different agencies into a flexible full-service offering that can be accessed by a client through one central person or team, Publicis Groupe is clearly responding to marketers' increased frustration at having to deal with a smorgasbord of different agencies, each of which tends to offer marketing solutions based on its legacy strengths. P&G, in particular, has told a number of agencies recently that it wants to reduce the number of shops its brands have to deal with and get more discipline-neutral solutions. The other marketing-service conglomerates have sometimes tried to create similar structures around certain large marketers, with some, most notably WPP Group, seeing the holding company as the organizing entity tailoring its offering by hand-picking certain agency assets based on client needs.
Asked whether the creation of the Insight Factory was driven by longtime client P&G and roster-newbie Samsung, Mr. Bernardin said: "More inspired by than driven by. The point is clearly that some clients are buying into it and want more of it."
So why not just merge all the agencies together and go back to one huge, integrated offering? "The individual brands [Burnett, SMG, Digitas] have to continue," said Mr. Bernardin, "because some clients want that model, but others are looking for something more flexible and collaborative."