Publicis Groupe chairman and CEO Arthur Sadoun announced in Paris today that Marcel, the holding company’s much-talked about AI platform, will “break the barrier between data, technology and creativity”.
At a launch event at the Hôtel Salomon de Rothschild this morning, a group of around 450 Publicis executives, clients and press were treated to the first view of Marcel, with Publicis employees worldwide tuning in via a live-stream.
“Marcel is a journey to shift Publicis Groupe from a holding company to a platform and give creative minds the freedom to progress and thrive in this ever-changing industry,” Arthur said.
He believes that Marcel is proof of the company’s commitment to three things: Publicis Groupe’s 80,000 staff members, its clients and the advertising industry. “[It will] give them [the staff] the opportunity to learn, share and create more than anywhere else… They [the clients] will be able to leverage our incredible diversity of talent to bring to life the ideas they need to grow their business,” he said.
Marcel's branding, created by BBH Singapore
Of its implications on the advertising industry at large, Sadoun - who was also joined on stage by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, a partner on the Marcel project - added: “We will be a force for good, by leading the change. Tying the development of Marcel to our one-year industry event hiatus was a controversial decision, but a necessary one. It drew a line in the sand and left no doubt that we are determined to do whatever it takes to reinvent an industry that has struggled to evolve over the past 40 years.”
Publicis employees are not obliged to use Marcel - when it officially launches at the beginning of 2019 (beta testing is just about to begin), it will run on an opt-in basis, a notable point right now due to GDPR laws coming into effect tomorrow. Publicis Groupe’s global chief digital officer Dawn Winchester - who has been one of the people closest to the development of Marcel - told LBB after the presentation that GDPR was an inspiration behind that decision but not a solitary one. “It’s part of our philosophy that this is not about centralising command control of our people,” she said. “It’s about empowering our people. It’s almost like our accountability is to make a platform that is so engaging and useful for them that they come vs us forcing them to do that.”
While Marcel is undoubtedly going to be an amazing tool for creativity, one pressing question surrounded the generation of maverick, out-there ideas that don’t necessarily fit into a ‘box’. “We’ve talked about this a lot,” said Dawn. “We believe that creativity is born out of connecting things that you wouldn’t normally connect. We all have routines in which we connect the same things over and over again - this is going to disrupt that and will lead to new ways of connecting. For example, we’ve got an idea we’re working on that involves people anonymously providing ideas for a big brief which are then judged blind to take out some of the bias.”
Dawn also mentioned that she “wouldn’t be surprised” if other companies had their own crack at Marcel but believed that it was only possible for Publicis Groupe thanks to Arthur’s reorganisation and breaking down of silos since he became CEO just over one year ago.
If you’d like to see the Marcel presentation from Paris in full, click here. For more information on Marcel and its functionality, visit the Publicis Groupe website here.