Marcel, Publicis New AI to Disrupt The Ad Industry

In May 2017 less than six months after being elevated to top executive of the holding company, Publicis Groupe’s CEO Arthur Sedoun announced that his global advertising holding company would be creating an AI platform called Marcel to not only fundamentally change his business, but the entire creative ad industry as well, he got a lot of attention.

Within a year he unveiled Marcel, a new platform comprised of multiple apps using AI, social networking mechanics, voice recognition, predictive analytics and more aimed at getting Publicis’  80,000 employees to be more productive and work together better.

The first three apps on Marcel — named after Marcel Bleustein-Blanchet, the founder of Publicis who had an interesting second career as a fighter in the French Resistance — will be Daily Six, Expert Match and Open Brief, with plans to add more apps over time, CEO and chairman Arthur Sadoun said in an interview this week. They’ve been trialled so far with 100 employees and will be rolling out more widely from today, with an aim of having its whole staff connected in 18 months.

“The young people who work at agencies use Uber and Seamless in their civilian lives … then they go into work and they use these strange antiquated legacy systems,” he said. “Hopefully, in a few years’ time when this is running on all cylinders, it will feel natural.”

The move is an interesting turn for Publicis, currently the world’s third-largest advertising agency, to defragment and improve how its organization works.

Sadoun and Publicis global CCO Nick Law insisted that the company’s “raison d’être” in developing Marcel was to facilitate a greater sense of creativity across its network

“I won’t talk about pressures we are under as an industry; you just have to read journalists’ reports every morning,” added a very blunt Sadoun.

He emphasized the potential value of Talent Match, a feature by which employees at Publicis offices around the world can connect on specific projects through a smart filter that helps pair them based on experience, availability and interest.

One slide in the presentation connected the various aspects of the Marcel ecosystem, from work requests to “collaboration walls,” with Microsoft email, calendar and cloud storage services underlying the entire process.

“You will have all of Publicis in the palm of your hand,” Sadoun said.