Before 'Marcel,' there was Pangaea: Inside JWT's two-year head start on Publicis Groupe

Screen Shot 2017-06-22 at 7.50.54 am-thumb-350x171-257393.jpgCarla Serrano, the chief strategy officer for Publicis Groupe, looks right at the camera and declares that "Marcel"--the internal communications platform that the group will spend the next year developing--will be "the first ever professional assistant that uses AI and machine-learning technology." So begins the "video heard 'round the ad world," during which Publicis chairman and CEO Arthur Sadoun sent shockwaves through the industry with the announcement that his team would forego any award shows or industry events for 2018 in an effort to funnel all of their creative and financial resources into this new system. For most viewers, it was this--Sadoun's claim of event abstinence--that raised their eyebrows. But for Mark Sylvester, community strategist for J. Walter Thompson, it was the "first ever" assertion that rang loudest in his ears.

"I grinned when I watched that video," says Sylvester. "I thought, 'You guys, this is not an easy problem to solve.'" And he would know, you see, because he had already done it. Click to continue reading article...

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