Publicis Groupe has revamped its entire approach to Cannes after a year-long absence from the festival, prioritizing creatives and first-time attendees as delegates, submitting 50 percent less work and co-curating all awards entries with its clients.
Two thirds of its 313 delegates this year are creatives, which the network says is significantly up on 2017. A quarter of delegates will be first time attendees and Publicis will also include a “broader spectrum” of creatives, such as those in data-driven roles.
“We are putting our belief in creativity first,” said Arthur Sadoun, Publicis Groupe Chairman and CEO, in an interview with Ad Age. “It has been a sacrifice for some, but overall it has been well-received.”
By increasing its number of first-timers at the festival, Sadoun said Publicis is focusing on the next generation of talent and recognizing that "the attitude of going to Cannes is less about awards and more about learning and networking."
This year, Publicis worked with the respective clients on each of its submissions—although the network, not the clients, will cover the cost. This represents a major shift from 2018, when, with a handful exceptions, the majority of Publicis work entered for awards was submitted, and financed, by the clients.
Sadoun said the experience inspired Publicis to work more closely with clients on entries. It also prompted the network to pare down by half the number of entries submitted in 2017—which Sadoun said is down to prioritizing bigger, more-“visible” client work. He cites Procter & Gamble’s “It’s a Tide Ad” Grand Prix-winning campaign from last year, created by Saatchi & Saatchi, as a good example.
“Having a year off helped us focus on the real work,” he adds. “It’s a different type of attitude and spirit.”
The last time Publicis was at Cannes, in 2017, it announced that it would not take part in Cannes in 2018 while it prioritized the development of its AI tool, Marcel.
Having debuted in Paris a year ago, following initial beta testing, Marcel is now piloting among all employees in the U.K. It will launch in the U.S., its second market, towards the end of this year. The U.K. was chosen as it represents a “good snapshot of the entire group,” said Publicis President, Marcel, Dawn Winchester.
Winchester added that after the initial beta testing, the Marcel app has been “rebuilt” in an end-to-end way in accordance with feedback from testers. In particular, there has been an expansion from voice interaction to include text and typing, after Publicis found that in professional environments, people were less inclined to use voice prompts. “In meetings, while commuting and in open work environments, people wanted the option to text,” said Winchester.
Marcel will also debut a desktop web-app version called Marcel.ai, as well as working as a mobile app on both iOS and Android.
The bot will also have a presence in Cannes; two Marcel testers, known as “Marcelerators,” will report back on content and thought leadership through Marcel’s Daily Digest. Arminda Klier, a client director at Digitas U.K., and Amy Wright, a senior business strategist at Saatchi & Saatchi London, won the opportunity through a competition.