Publicis Groupe has officially unveiled the winning participants in its 90th anniversary start-up programme at the Viva Technology conference hosted in its native Paris, with London-based outfits Rezonence, and SoPost among those making the final cut.
The overall programme – dubbed Publicis90 – is the brainchild of the agency network’s CEO Maurice Levy, with today’s announcement ceremony the culmination of six month vetting procedure that has seen thousands of applications trimmed down to 90 winners, with successful applicants offered access to the entire Publics network including, a year-long mentorship, plus potential funding of up to €500,000 each.
Publicis90 saw the agency receive pitches from all over the globe (including 200 from its own employees) with aim of opening up Publicis to some of the latest behaviours driven by technology trends.
The scheme has gained the backing of some of the network’s luminaries (such as Sapient Nitro’s European chief Nigel Vaz, not to mention Levy himself) with some of the marketing industry’s leading personalities, including SalesForce CEO Marc Benioff, AOL CEO Tim Armstrong and Orange CEO chief Pierre Louette all participating in the judging process.
Shortlisted applicants’ offerings ranged from innovations in healthcare to proposals to use tech to bring transparency in the fine art market. However, notable UK-based winners were Rezonence, an outfit that helps publishers cope with the rising tide of ad blocking, plus SoPost, an outfit that helps brands convert ‘product samplers’ into customers.
Jonathan Grubin, SoPost CEO, said: “With Publicis90 there’s the potential opportunity to gain exposure across the entire Publicis network, and we intend to use it as leverage as we expand into the US.”
Rowly Bourne, CEO, Rezonence, said: “Being one of the UK companies to be included from thousands that applied is a huge honour, but by being a global competition, it will not only help us back in the UK but also with our current European and US expansion.”
Both outfits got involved in the process via way of their participation in NexTechNow, a scheme by Publicis Media, whereby Publicis-owned agencies such as Starcom Mediavest Group help cultivate startups, and then try to match them to client briefs. Bourne and Grubin both agree that what separates Publicis' efforts from the myriad of alternative startup schemes is that all its activities are backed by considerable amounts of capital.
Bourne added: “The piece that makes Publicis 90 different to all the other competitions was it was voted by the 72,000 employees of Publicis, so people at the coal face had as much say as the people at the top.”
Grubin said: “With NextTechNow, it’s not just a PR thing, over the past 18 months we’ve grown significantly, and have had traction with brands in the US and UK, working with Starcom has really helped with that.
Speaking with The Drum, Jim Kite, head of NextTechNow at Starcom, explained the rationale behind the agency’s involvement: “We’ve been connecting with start-ups for almost two years now, and the benefit is helping connect them to our clients’ briefs. They [start ups] bring the tech, and then we make sure they fulfill what the client wants.”
The scheme appears to be gaining traction with clients, with the media agency keen to highlight testimonials from tier one brands, such as Heineken, IMAX Theatre, and McCormick.
Publicis Groupe was unable to provide a comprehensive list of the full 90 winners by time of publication, although documents seen by The Drum list the full UK quota of winners as: Cognisante; Duel; Formisimo; Future Visual; OnePulse; Parcelly; Real Life Analytics; See Fashion; Tailster.com and Ugogo Africa