Publicis Groupe opens Le Truc, a New York center of creative excellence, with Droga5 Global CCO Neil Heymann
Less than a week ago, Ad Age reported that Droga5 Global Chief Creative Officer Neil Heymann would be departing his post for a new venture with Publicis Groupe. Today, Publicis Groupe has announced that Heymann will be one of the founding leaders of Le Truc, a New York City-based center of creative excellence that unites more than 600 creatives, producers and strategists from the holding company's New York agencies in a single space.
Heymann will serve as chief creative officer and will be part of a chief creative leadership team that includes Chief Design Officer Bastien Baumann, former Ogilvy executive creative director and head of design; current Leo Burnett Global CCO and Publicis Communications NA CCO Liz Taylor; and Publicis NY CCO Andy Bird. Publicis Groupe Global Chief Strategy Officer Carla Serrano will serve as president, while former Saatchi & Saatchi Managing Partner, Operations Elaine Barker will head up resource management and operations.
The founders see Le Truc as the latest manifestation of the company’s “Power of One” philosophy, which came into even sharper focus during the pandemic. “We’ve always believed that the best creativity comes from diversity and the right curation of team for briefs,” says Serrano. “During the pandemic, as we started to work remotely, there was a level of creative interdependence and generosity that I’ve never seen. We’ve also learned so much as a society about the importance of interdependence, diversity and collectiveness. So as we come out of the pandemic, we really want to design for the future and keep the best of what we’ve learned.”
As for why Heymann was the right leader to help open Le Truc, “Neil is an incredible hybrid, with digital, retail, more traditional comms, as well as the integration with Accenture and a creative agency, which is useful in our world,” Serrano says. “But also, from an attitudinal standpoint of collectivism, he’s kindred with us. We believe in practitioner leaders, not someone who swoops in from above, and, he’s just a lovely, lovely person. So with all that, Neil fits the bill in so many ways.”
The Le Truc physical space will bring together the teams of Publicis, Digitas, Razorfish, Rokkan, Saatchi & Saatchi and Publicis Media, and will be located in Publicis Groupe’s flagship building at 375 Hudson Street. Architecture firm A+I, which previously developed the headquarters of Squarespace and Equinox, is designing the Le Truc office space.
“It shouldn’t come as a shock, when you think about how we’ve always thought about creativity, diversity, the Power of One, the Marcel fluid talent platform. But for us, this is a real focus on creativity, giving a sort of hub of creative excellence for our people in the New York office,” Serrano says.
“What’s so interesting to me about it, is it combines all the learnings and all the adaptations we’ve had to undergo during this last year, the best of all that, but also the stuff we really missed,” adds Heymann. “Bringing those things together in a physical space points to a different way of working.” As far as his role goes, “to me it feels very much like a thread in between. How can we help bring these other entities together, how can we make the work better, how can we unify?”
What’s in a name
The name “Le Truc,” translates to “the thing” in French and pays homage to the organization’s French roots. It’s used to refer to something vague that's hard to describe.
“It’s both colloquial and quite profound,” says Serrano. “It’s something that you want but can’t quite find the word for, which I think is what creative development is about. It’s also a profound expression of when you put creatives together and whatever it is they’re making—it is very much about looking for that special sauce.
When asked if the introduction of Le Truc will lead to the dilution of the various Publicis Groupe New York agency brands, the founders believe the result will be quite the opposite.
“I think it strengthens the points of view and the creative approach the agencies have,” Serrano says. “It’s so important to use because the Power of One is nothing without the power of difference. For us, it’s more emphatic that the brands have to be diversified.”
“There is so much history and credibility associated with each of those brands, so to be able to go into each of those cultures and find really talented people bespoke to different tasks, pitches and assignments feels really exciting,” Heymann adds. “It is about the collective, but the original identities have to be maintained and celebrated.”
To cite a pop culture reference, Le Truc, then, can be seen as a sort of Avengers Tower for its talents.
“For pitches, sometimes we talk about super powers,” Serrano says. “That’s what you do, you create your Avengers team. So for us, we’re just making the Avengers team part of everyday practice and culture as much as we can.”
As part of its launch, Le Truc will be further broadening its talent pool with a joint venture to launch a new Black-owned experimental studio. Yet to be named, its founders are Quinnton Harris, who has served as group creative director, experience and chief of staff for CXO at Publicis Sapient, and also held roles at Blavity ad Walker & Company brands; Walker & Co vet Ajene Green; UX/UI designer Chijioke Amah; and former Pinterest Global Outsourcing Manager Joy Ekuta.
The team will focus on bringing historical context and nuanced cultural perspective to creative experiences and tech. “Brands that can be retrospective about their past while embracing the changes of the times can truly deliver rich, authentic and inclusive human experiences,” Harris said in a statement. “In fact, they will ultimately be the ones that endure as we evolve to be a more inclusive and equitable society.”