Publicis Groupe New York launches creative collective ‘Le Truc'

Le Truc leadership team
Le Truc leadership team

The network brings together 600 creatives from across Publicis’ New York offices in one location.

Big, global brands increasingly want to cherry pick the talent and solutions they need from across holding companies.

To offer that from a creative perspective, Publicis on Thursday unveiled “Le Truc,” a network out of its New York office that unites 600 creatives, producers and strategists in one space. 

Publicis has recruited Droga5 global creative chief Neil Heymann as a founding partner of the network, who AdAge reported last week was leaving the agency after 12 years. Former Ogilvy exec Bastien Baumann, who joined Publicis as chief design officer in January, is also a founding partner, along with Leo Burnett global creative chief Liz Taylor and Publicis North America CCO Andy Bird. 

Carla Serrano, global chief strategy officer of Publicis Groupe, will lead the group as president, along with Elaine Barker, managing partner of operations at Saatchi & Saatchi. 

The name “Le Truc,” which means “the thingamajig, the knack or the way” in French, is a colloquial way to describe the elusiveness of a creative brief. 

“It means, ‘I want that thing, but I don’t know what it’s called,’” Serrano said. “It’s an everyday phrase, but it’s quite profound.” 

Le Truc will live at Publicis’ New York headquarters on 375 Hudson Street in Manhattan. Creatives from across Publicis New York, Digitas, Razorfish, Rokkan, Saatchi & Saatchi and Publicis Media can access the space and participate on client projects led by Le Truc teams. The space is being designed as a creative “hub” that supports a hybrid work structure and keeps health and safety in mind. 

The network is both a response to increasingly complex creative briefs and a commitment to return to the office in a different way than before the pandemic. 

“We have to give people a reason to come back to the office,” Heymann said. “For all the complications of this new way of working, we’ve formed a lot of new habits. How do we create a place that’s enticing, where people enjoy spending time together?” 

Publicis plans to assemble Le Truc teams for pitches, at clients’ request or on particularly complicated briefs. The group will also bring independent creatives, students or interns into the community and make investments in other creative companies. 

For example, Le Truc has entered a joint venture with former Sapient executive Quinnton Harris, freelance design consultant Chijioke Amah, Retrospect co-founder Joy Ekuta and Ajene Green, who joins from Industrious to create an experimental creative studio focused on nuanced cultural perspectives.   

“We need to continue to fuel new, fresh and different [ideas] for all of our clients, and also for the creative population,” Serrano said 

The collective is the next step in Publicis’ journey to be a more integrated company under its “Power of One” strategy. Over the past few years, the group has moved all of its agencies in each country on the same P&L, making it possible to pull this off, Serrano said. 

“I think it [would be] very difficult for people who don’t have that model,” she said. “At any other holding company, the logistics would kill you.”

The 'Le Truc' model launches in New York, but is a "prototype" for similar models in Publicis' other markets, Serrano said. Still, agencies that participate in the collective are encouraged to maintain their brands and individual identities while being able to tap in and out of the space. 

“We have a saying at Publicis: You play for your club, and you play for your country,” Serrano said. “Your club is your peers, your close-knit friends, your inner circle. But sometimes you play for the country, and it’s really fun.”

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