Publicis Groupe Scraps Market-By-Market Rollout Plan For Marcel

When Publicis Groupe unveiled its internal AI communications platform Marcel last year the plan was to roll it out region by region starting with the UK where a pilot test has been ongoing, followed by the U.S. later in 2019.

Now, the company says, it’s scrapping the region-by-region rollout in favor of one big reveal set for the second half of 2020, three years after CEO/Chairman Arthur Sadoun first announced the vision and scope of the project at Cannes.

The switch is due to the fact that Groupe executives now feel “bullish enough” and “confident” to introduce Marcel at once to the Groupe’s 80,000 workers, says Carla Serrano, Chief Strategy Officer Publicis Groupe.

“We are pretty excited,” she says. “When we looked at the long tail of the market-by-market rollout, we didn’t think we would ever get to the point” of reaching everyone. There were a number of reasons we selected the U.K. Two primary factors were that the U.K. provided a large market to debut Marcel for employee use and learnings and also the fact they knew this market would be cynical  over Marcel, making it a strong environment for adoption and use learnings. We wanted to prove it in one of the more challenging regions,” she says.



Artificial intelligence is cited as the overarching reason for this massive adjustment. AI performs more effectively when it feeds on better and more wide-ranging data. It would take a long time to accumulate enough data in small doses to form Marcel’s knowledge network.

Further, unlike original anticipations, there doesn’t seem to be regional differences to require micro platform tweaks. “Everyone engages in Marcel in their own way,” says Serrano. “We are on a constant feedback loop,” she says.

UK users, to that end, were thrilled with a better way to fill out timesheets.” Who knows if those in India will feel the same way or whether they may prefer our Daily Digest roundup of news,” she speculates.

Although users prefer a hybrid model to enable them to either use vocal commands or text/tap, Serrano is surprised at the popularity for the web version. “It is just as important as the app-based [model],” she says, though she cautions the behavior “might just be U.K. specific.” Serrano feels the ability to use Marcel on a desktop computer is rooted in the fact that most of its workers primarily rely on emails.

More importantly to Serrano is encouraging workers to engage with Marcel on a regular basis. Marcel’s success is dependent on amassing current and on-going data.

One of the more liked tools is the Snap Jobs that lists open career opportunities one week before they go public. The descriptions themselves are less “dry” and “classic” to entertain potential position changers.

Marcel continues to utilize "Marcelerators,” well-trained mentors to instruct staffers on effective ways to use the application. All 80 U.K. ambassadors have remained in their roles, with the Groupe currently seeking participants to form its global roster.

Serrano admits Marcel had oversized expectations given the hype when it was first announced during Cannes 2017, but asserts that the company remains very confident that the platform will be a cornerstone in positioning the company for the future.


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