Publicis Groupe has launched its Marcel artificial-intelligence platform in the UK, promising to empower staff to manage their personal brands, broaden their career opportunities and tap into knowledge and experience from across the group of agencies.
The company claims Marcel "will help to inform, create and connect the workforce of the future". All 5,000 Publicis Groupe UK employees will have access to the platform by the end of June in a pilot launch ahead of a global roll-out of the service.
Annette King, chief executive of Publicis Groupe UK, said the UK had been chosen as the first market because the model here is "now in a strong place". She added: "We’re already working very well together here and Marcel will help our people and our clients by providing better working processes through collaboration."
An official statement about the launch said: "With the UK pilot of Marcel, we are addressing the wider issue of the future of our workforce, tackling some of the significant cross-industry workforce issues of today, including AI in service of people, upskilling/reskilling/cross-skilling and using ideas and creators as the most valuable currency of the future."
'Harder than expected'
An initial beta test of Marcel last year resulted in a complete end-to-end rebuild and redesign.
Marcel now includes a single group-wide directory of employees, integrated with Microsoft’s Office 365 for email and calendar access and productivity tracking; profile pages for employees to manage their personal brand and discover opportunities to work on briefs from other agencies and in other countries; daily digest content that focuses on people, work, clients and agencies; enhanced algorithms that match and find people, case studies and thought leadership to help with specific work projects.
Arthur Sadoun, chairman and chief executive of Publicis Groupe, said that getting to this stage of development with the platform had been "harder than expected, but it’s opening up more opportunities than we expected".
He infamously announced at the Cannes Lions festival in 2017 that Publicis Groupe would withdraw from entering and paying to attend all industry awards for a year in order to help fund the development of Marcel. The controversial decision caused some disquiet within the group. Sadoun will now be hoping that employees find the benefits Marcel brings justify the pain.
"Marcel is an important part of our shift from being holding company to a platform. But even more than that, Marcel is a commitment to our people, that they will be able to learn more, share more and create more than anywhere else, and to our clients, who will be able to leverage the broad diversity of our talent to help grow their businesses," Sadoun said.
Collaboration and integration
The roll-out comes as Publicis continues to bring all of its agencies – including Saatchi & Saatchi, Leo Burnett, Publicis, Zenith, Starcom and Sapient – under a single profit-and-loss structure on a country-by-country basis; Marcel adds another layer of collaboration and integration.
Sadoun explained: "Our belief is that we’re going to move into a model where you won’t be able to disconnect data from dynamic content and technology, and this will have to be run at country level, because it means bringing a lot of expertise from different agencies under one P&L.
"But the creative ideas that fuel can come from either local agencies or from our agencies around the world. The day our people feel that if they are good enough they are going to be able to do more things in more ways, no matter where they are based – the game is over. That will take time and will be difficult, but that’s the endgame."