Publicis and Google: All About the Pitching?

So Publicis and Google have a relationship. Call it an understanding. They’re going to exchange knowledge. And people. And it’s going to be… unprecedented.

Here’s the official statement from Publicis:
This collaboration, underway for over one year, is based on a shared vision of how new technologies can be used to improve advertising.

Riveting stuff, eh? Yet the lack of detail didn’t prevent news outlets from writing several dozen stories about the supposed pair-up. Here’s what we know based on existing reports, along with a few guesses about what the Googlicis arrangement might (or might not) mean:

The gist of the tango, according to Reuters: “Google would exchange its technological know-how for Publicis’s analytical and media planning expertise.” A nice idea, but Google works alone, see? Sort of like the Terminator, or maybe Harvey Keitel’s character in Pulp Fiction. Joint ventures and partnerships aren’t really its bag. Google has, however, shown a great interest in getting large brand marketers to spend more of their money with it. Not coincidentally, Publicis also would like to see those clients increase their digital spends — just as long as they do so through Publicis.

Google and Publicis will have dedicated staff on-site at each others’ offices “for a few months or a year.” Agencies do this with their clients all the time. For the sake of argument, consider this new deal an analogous scenario in which Google is the agency (though it swears it’s not), consulting with its client (Publicis and its various units, as well as their brands) on various methods by which the latter could spend more money. The Google staffers sit in on pitches and develop media plans across the company’s network. As for the other end of the exchange program, I’m somewhat baffled. All I can say is my heart goes out to any Publicis staffers with the dubious luck to be stationed at Google “for several months or a year.” The line here between pitch and collaboration is very murky, and who could stand being pitched for that length of time? I couldn’t.

Google will launch a global account team for Publicis, “the first of its kind with a Global Advertising Group.” This is the key piece of the relationship, if you ask me. And it’s something Google has pursued aggressively with the entire agency community for well over a year. Believe me, the company would leap at the chance to do the same thing with any of the major holding companies. As an aside: It seems to me there’s a slight risk for Google in appearing to align itself with one major ad network to the exclusion of the others.

Anyway, now you have my two cents. Maybe it’s worth less than that. In the end, what’s more interesting to me than the nature of the collaboration is how much Publicis committed to spend with Google to get this feather in its bizdev cap.

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