Bob Hoffman: Who's Gonna Guard Marcel?

Bob-Hoffmann-158137.jpegBy Bob Hoffman,
The Ad Contrarian

Publicis Groupe CEO Arthur Sadoun made big headlines last week with his announcement that he's taking the $20 million they piss away at Cannes every year and sinking it into an artificial intelligence gimmick called Marcel.

The goal of this AI system is to connect all 80,000 of Publicis' employees [including those at Saatchi & Saatchi New Zealand] for the purpose of universal access to information and collaboration. You can learn about it on this video cliché-fest.

According to Chip Register, co-CEO of Publicis.Sapient...

    "In a group of 80,000 people ... how can we assemble that team and allow that team to work and collaborate virtually to bring the best ideas and values we can to a client at a moment's notice?...The use of technology enables great creative work. It enables the connectivity of people... It enables teams to work and it enables ideas to generate, be shared globally and virtually, through the use of better insight in culture and the journey of human beings."
Let's forget the "human journey" horseshit for a minute and talk about the practical use of Marcel.

We know that digital security is a cruel joke. We know that hackers have gotten into White House systems, CIA systems, and just about any system they want to hack.

What I want to know is, how is Publicis going to protect the ideas and information accessible through Marcel from every hacker and every rival agency and marketing entity on the planet?

But let's give Publicis the benefit of the doubt and stipulate that they have better cyber security than the White House. How about the internal issues?


Bob Hoffman is a writer, speaker and partner in Type A Group. The Wall Street Journal calls Bob "Caustic yet truthful" and Time, Inc calls him "fabulously irreverent." Bob has been the ceo of two independent ad agencies and the US operation of an international agency. He is author of the popular "Ad Contrarian" blog and has written several books including "101 Contrarian Ideas About Advertising" which became Amazon's #1 selling advertising book. Bob has created advertising for McDonald's, Toyota, Pepsico, Bank of America, AT&T and more companies than he cares to think about. In 2012 he was selected Ad Person of the Year by the San Francisco Advertising Club. Bob has spoken to groups in Canada, UK, Spain, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Norway, Poland, and all over the U.S. Bob's most recent book "Marketers Are From Mars, Consumers Are From New Jersey" was selected "#1 Hot Prospect" in advertising by Amazon.


The Judge said:

Say you have a medium sized NZ client paying $20K for a concept plus two rounds of changes on a particular brief. Now, you also have people in Brazil, Kenya, Germany and Canada working on your brief to crack it because Marcel has let them see the brief.
Who's going to pick up the tab once the time spent rockets past the allotted budget? The local agency or a global slush fund? The NZ client?

Verdict: Reduced margins and profit/performance KPI's for local management will restrict and eventually strangle Marcel. It reminds me of lazy pitching for a client where you attempt to convince a prospective client that you have overseas offices working on their brief in an attempt to wow them. Great in theory, lousy in application.

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