The French connection platform

We’ve heard a lot about Marcel, the Publicis Groupe’s technological revolution – but what exactly is it? We went along to the unveiling to find out.

by Hervé de Clerck , AdForum

In front of a cheerleading crowd of Publicis Groupe executives, clients, partners and journalists, Arthur Sadoun introduced – “unboxed”, as he puts it – Marcel, a tool that will break down the borders of its network and allow 80,000 employees to collaborate seamlessly as a single workforce. Says Sadoun: “Marcel will enable clients to leverage our incredible diversity of talent to bring to life the ideas they need to grow their business.”

Unleashing 80,000 minds

Marcel is a platform leveraging the data of over five billion files, dispersed around 1,200 Publicis Groupe entities in 130 countries. The platform uses Microsoft AI tools and Google Knowledge Graph tech to organize the data into a single platform.

It’s built around four main functionalities: the access to internal and external information; the ability to identify and interact with experts and talents; the creation of open source briefs and collaboration opportunities; the facilitation of project management and individual organizational processes.

Marcel is accessed through a user-friendly, interactive voice/text enabled app that will drive and deliver a personalized experience for its users.


The connection engine

Listening to the speech, I was reminded of a presentation 10 years ago by McCann Worldgroup during an Adforum Worldwide Summit. The announcement was strikingly similar, including the partnership with Microsoft. The basic idea was to give 20,000 employees the ability to interact with colleagues around the network, identify experts and specialists and collaborate on remote projects in a secure environment.

Marcel also brought to mind JWT’s Pangaea, an internal AI connecting their 12,000-plus colleagues around the world. Then there is the R/GA operating system, which brings together their 3,000 employees. BBDO has also developed a global crowdsourcing network; no doubt there are others too. Not to be left behind, multinational advertisers have launched their own connection platforms – Henkel’s Yammer, for example. (And let’s not forget Adforum, which with its AdTalent network now links 175,000 professionals with 20,000 ad companies and 200,000 campaigns).


From vision to execution

Marcel is not merely a cost cutting process or an efficiency enhancing tool. The truly unique aspect of Marcel is that it is the core of Publicis Groupe’s machine and becomes the reason to believe in the Power of One strategy. So, hats off to the 100-plus team from all corners of the Groupe who have come up with this highly complex tool in less than a year. Indeed, Marcel may be the most advanced platform of its kind in its conception, the breadth and depth of its functionalities and the friendliness of its interface.

The next challenge will be to imbue 80,000 employees with the same enthusiasm shown in Paris by the Publicis Groupe leadership. As Arthur Sadoun articulates it: “The success will be the execution.”