Publicis Groupe answers more questions about Marcel as Walmart CMO praises the platform

Marcel app

After Marcel’s unveiling in Paris last week, The Drum inundated Publicis Groupe with a list of questions that need to be answered about the new artificial intelligence platform that chief executive Arthur Sadoun has placed so much faith in.

Marcel, announced during Cannes Lions 2017, is an AI powered platform which aims to help the group assign the most experienced and relevant professionals working within agency brands, to client needs internationally. Already it has worked with Walmart on a project while testing the platform.

"We have been very impressed by Publicis and its ability to truly modernise the holding company model, because we have access to great creative talent, so we have been very happy with our partnership," Walmart's chief marketing officer, Tony Rogers. "What I have seen from the first part of this test with Marcel is, now they are going to employ technology that is going to make that even easier in an everyday way of doing business. They have taken something that is already a strength for them and that is very powerful."

Asked whether, as a result of using Marcel, Roberts hoped to implement more AI within Walmart, he would only add: "I think AI is everywhere."

The next phase of the development of Marcel will see 1,000 people internally work on it over the coming months before it is rolled out officially from January 2019 with the plan for it to be fully integrated across the group by 2020.

Q: How will the first 1,000 participants be chosen? Will it be global?

A: Marcel is already in beta among a representative population of 1,000 people across Publicis Groupe globally. The beta audience of 1,000 people was selected to be an exact Publicis Groupe representation, by agency, role and geography. This group’s representative feedback will help refine the app to be transformative for the entirety of our organization. China and Russia are not included in this phase due to data concerns.

Q: What about if it chooses people working on another project already – should they opt out?

A: Marcel will manage any conflict at the individual level. If you are not supposed to access, see or be asked to be part of something, Marcel will filter you out.

Q: How will you ensure resource isn’t all wasted with lots of teams all pitching for the same major projects? How time consuming is the pitch – do they simply declare an interest?

A: Marcel will help us to manage this process to make sure we are providing opportunity to our people but also balancing efficiency and effectiveness for our clients. As we test throughout our beta period we expect that we will gain learning that will establish best practices.

Q: Mobile – how will it alert people in accordance with out of hours in countries where it is illegal for companies to communicate outside of hours.

A: All employee participation in Marcel will be opt-in. We will constantly conduct data privacy impact assessments and proactively make adjustments as needed. The company-wide rollout in January 2019 will be progressive and the exact plan will be released at the end of 2018. Specifically, mobile notifications will be opt-in and will have individual controls.

Q: How much has this cost as a project so far? Can you give any indication of the scale?

A: We do not disclose financials. We believe this investment is critical for the transformation of Publicis and will be a unique platform for our people and our clients. It will radically change the way we work.

Q: How easily does it integrate with other systems and collaborate with other agency groups? How will it work with P&G's new inhouse agency for example?

A: Marcel will be integrated with the major Publicis Groupe systems. The current version of Marcel is focused on creating a platform for our people but future plans may include integration with clients and partners.

Q: Will some clients not be able to use it as some client relationships are too complex?

A: Future plans may include direct access for our clients and partners but the current version of Marcel is reserved for the 80,000 Publicis Groupe employees.

Q: Does Marcel have a voice? How does it interact with staff?

A: During the beta period we will be testing the benefit and feasibility of giving Marcel a voice.

Q: Will the data of all senior members of the business be on the platform at well?

A: Marcel is completely opt-in and all people will be treated equally. Any senior people joining the platform will have the same access, participation and control.

Q: How much resource will be employed to run it day to day? Will this include hiring a department to oversee it?

A: We are not releasing details right now but we will be making some announcements.

Find out more about Marcel and the thinking behind it from the launch event last week.

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