New Publicis 'BSBot' Ready To Call Out AI Hype

AI is more than just a buzzword. It has and will continue to have profound impact on businesses and societies globally.  

It’s an understatement to say there is a lot of hyperbole surrounding the technology. There are some who believe it’s the greatest development since the discovery of fire. Others believe strongly that it will ultimately destroy humankind.  



The truth probably lies somewhere in between those two extremes. 

No doubt the upcoming Cannes International Festival of Creativity (June 17-21) will be overflowing with seminars, keynote speeches, panel sessions, private conversations, cocktail party chatter, press releases, news stories and demonstrations dedicated to AI. 

And Publicis Groupe will be there with a new bot designed to separate the new and interesting about AI from the hype, exaggerated promises and other, well, BS that some will attempt to position as the next new AI thing.  

The Groupe’s new “BSBot” is a tool for clients. At the Cannes festival, they will be able to upload recorded audio or images and text from speeches, presentations and more and receive an instant analysis that translates “AI hype and jargon into real talk” and highlights follow-up questions that clients might want to ask.  

Publicis Groupe staffers will also be roaming the festival and listening to and inputting AI-related material into the bot to keep presenters honest – including a number of colleagues who will participate in AI sessions. 

“The only thing more widespread than AI at the moment is the noise surrounding it,” stated Publicis Groupe chairman and CEO Arthur Sadoun. As an industry, he added, “we are at risk of trying to make AI everything, everywhere, all at once.” But unlocking AI’s full power means “basing it on real data,” and “ensuring it is relevant to specific business needs by designing for outcomes, not output.” 

Carla Serrano, chief strategy officer, Publicis Groupe, said the idea for the BSBot came out of the World Economic Forum at Davos earlier this year when the gathering seemed overwhelmed with AI hype. “It was just crazy,” she said. Davos aside, she added, “there’s a lot of BS about AI and it is not abating.” 

Publicis Sapient, the Groupe’s transformation unit that is leading AI technology development at the company, created the BSBot.  

“We believe in AI,” said Serrano. “But it’s not a panacea.”  

The one-upmanship surrounding the technology is counterproductive, she said. “There’s this sort of weird mentality that the more AI partners you have the better. Everyday there’s another press release about an exclusive partnership.” In fact, she stressed, “we all have the same partners.”  

The company has scheduled 30 closed-door meetings (and counting) at Cannes to brief clients on AI – specifically developments that are relevant to their verticals and business challenges, Serrano said. 

Scott Hagedorn, Publicis Groupe's global chief solutions architect, said that over the past six months the company has been busy developing new AI applications and data models, initially targeting verticals including CPG, automotive, pharmaceuticals and others.  

Cross-functional teams developed ideas for the applications and data models, then worked with Sapient to make the actual products. Those products will be presented to clients at the Cannes meetings, “live without a net,” as Hagedorn put it. The BSBot will be at the meetings “ready to call bullshit on ourselves,” he notes. 

These new products are designed for business outcomes and not just outputs, Hagedorn stressed.  

Hagedorn said that he’s looking for feedback from the client meetings and questions about how the new apps and data models might be operationalized.  

A demo of the BSBot can be seen here



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