Publicis Creates Insight Factory, Face of Three Agencies

French holding company Publicis Groupe has aligned three agencies to create a “central services operation” dubbed The Insight Factory.

Leo Burnett, Starcom MediaVest Group and Digitas will remain autonomous within parent company Publicis while contributing personnel and technology to The Insight Factory, resulting in a full-service mix of their media, digital and creative services. The Insight Factory will provide clients with consolidated profit and loss statements and campaign reporting, according to David Kenny, CEO of Digitas.

“What clients have said is they just need more connective tissue between the efforts of our three agencies,” Kenny said. “Basically they are saying you all execute very well against the consumer, but if you put your insights together it would make us work smarter and faster. Putting one dashboard on the top of everybody involved, including the client, means that we are all operating off the same information and the same brief.”

The new alignment will roll out for clients early next year in the U.S. before going international. To oversee the new facet of the organization, a management board was named with executives from the three agencies, including Kenny, Tom Bernardin, chairman and chief executive officer of Leo Burnett Worldwide, and Renetta McCann, global chief executive officer of Starcom MediaVest Group. Jack Klues, chairman of Publicis Groupe Media will chair the board, representing it at the Publicis directoire level, according to the company.

Publicis acquired Digitas earlier this year, and Kenny believes its involvement by in The Insight Factory marks a broader acceptance of the digital channel within overall advertising campaigns.

“This is a strong signal that digital is becoming more central and has to be included at the beginning of these brand development process as opposed to being thought of as matching luggage to campaigns,” he said. “The client is saying we actually need one effort that has some traditional components, digital components and creative all in one place.”

For his part, Publicis Groupe Media Chairman Jack Klues agreed that digital advertising is now an integral part of The Insight Factory and advertising campaigns in general.

“In this kind of structure it demands an equal footing of interactive, media and creative, and content messaging in its more traditional form, and it puts them properly as functional and specialist equals,” Klues said. “I cherish our ability to work closely with the interactive agency experts like Digitas and it’s my hope that they will make us a better, more forward thinking media agency,”

In a separate discussion this week reported in the Financial Times, Maurice Lévy, chairman and chief executive of Publicis, sounded a darker note. He said he believes the boom in digital advertising has created a second bubble, in that companies are chasing too few viable advertising dollars, and that the fast rising valuations of such firms will prove “unbalanced.”

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