Publicis Groupe’s Kiwi expansion

We sat down with Michael Rebelo, CEO of Publicis Groupe New Zealand and Australia, to learn more about the moves they’ve been making in the market.

You’ve recently made some pretty significant acquisitions in New Zealand – what does the newly expanded Groupe look like now?

Towards the end of 2019, Publicis Groupe acquired New Zealand’s largest independent agency MBM and the country’s leading customer experience agency Affinity ID, doubling the Groupe’s footprint here. We did this because our vision is to be an indispensable partner for our clients and deliver end to end marketing transformation solutions at scale. We’ve got some fantastic agencies here, but there were areas we believed we needed to invest in to be able to provide a truly connected platform for our business and our clients. Both acquisitions are a testament to our commitment to the New Zealand market and our belief in the existing brands.

MBM has a successful history with a number of ‘Agency of the Year’ wins. What’s the most exciting thing you think they’ll bring to the network?

We’ve always been an admirer of the MBM team and what they’ve created as an independent agency. When we first sat down with Matt, Sean and Alysha, we realised there was a joint ambition there, shared values and an alignment on how to solve problems for clients. We
felt that MBM would complement and strengthen the capabilities we already had. They are a very data-centric, digitally-focused media agency, and really add some additional fire power to our media offering.

And Affinity ID? One of New Zealand’s leading customer experience agencies. What was it about them that meant they were the right fit?

The acquisition of Affinity ID was a really important move for us in New Zealand. They are a world-class digital customer experience agency, who use data, digital technology and software to deliver one-to-one personalised experiences at scale. This is certainly an area where we predict the future demand from clients will heighten and an area we didn’t have expertise
in. Affinity ID were also an incredibly innovative company, recognised by being awarded a Callaghan Innovation Grant.

For Affinity ID, the acquisition saw it relaunch under the Digitas brand as Digitas Affinity ID. What does that mean for the agency?

Affinity ID on their own are local market leaders. What we’re bringing to the table is the power of the Digitas connected marketing agency global network which gives the agency and clients in New Zealand, access to the largest number of data scientists in the industry and the biggest buying power of digital media globally. Across the world, Digitas is playing an increasingly important role in the transformation of a client’s marketing strategy so it was important to us we could make their expertise accessible here.

What are the benefits for clients who use Publicis Groupe’s agencies across their full agency suite?

In today’s world it’s very hard to deliver consumer engagement at scale and to solve the types of problems our clients are facing in isolation. You really need to have a diverse group of talent around a table, ideating, strategising and working out how to connect to the customer together.

Now with the expanded expertise of the Groupe in New Zealand, where a client requires it, we’re able to offer seamless access to talent and capabilities through our ‘Power of One’ model. Essentially Power of One removes the barriers to collaboration and allows us to bring the right collection of people from across our brands and disciplines to work around a client’s business. And that is what we see as our competitive advantage.

We don’t believe any other companies in this market – holding company, consultancy or independent can deliver that at the scale, breadth and with the diversity of talent that we can. It’s definitely not ‘one size fits all’ and it won’t be the right solution for every client, but the principles apply to whatever level of engagement you’ll have with the Groupe. Putting the client at the centre, and then getting the right people around the table to get to the right solution quickly.

How does Publicis Groupe create a local touch?

Publicis Groupe’s global headquarters may be in Paris, but in terms of
us here in New Zealand, the roughly 250 people on the ground and the strong local leaders we have in Al, Paul, Sean, Alysha, Matt, Geoff and Angela are “the Groupe”.

Our operating model has always been about empowering local markets and my role is to amplify and support the work of the teams here. So I’m very involved in the strategic direction of the business and I’m on the ground monthly to meet clients, trouble shoot and help the team look for ways to connect.

But the operational execution is very much in the hands of our local leaders. I’ve personally got a long-standing connection with New Zealand. It was here that I forged my career with Saatchi & Saatchi and as a dual Australian/Kiwi family, it’s very much our second home. I’m really enjoying the opportunity to work more closely with New Zealand businesses again.

How does the Publicis Groupe banner aid in talent acquisition?

First and foremost, it’s the role of our brands to attract great talent, but the Groupe brings scale, benefits, and best practices that add to their individual offerings. In our business, talent is our most precious resource and we’ve invested in a wide range of initiatives to help attract, retain and protect the best people.

In a small and competitive talent market like New Zealand, it’s even more important to be able to stand out to the top tier of candidates. So, in line with this, we’ve just finished rolling out flexible working across our agencies, increased our industry-leading paid parental leave benefits for both mothers and fathers and are currently working on a series of mental health initiatives that began with our office close-down on World Mental Health Day.

In an industry that’s notorious for churning and burning at the cost of people’s wellbeing, we’re determined to lead the change and create a sustainable culture that’s better for our people, our clients and our business. Our connected platform is also key for talent,
as it allows people to work in their area of specialism but also to work with others across the Groupe to widen and deepen their experience. We also know Kiwis love an overseas adventure and the Groupe opens up international career opportunities, especially to our new entrants who only had a New Zealand footprint up until now.

What does 2020 hold for Publicis Groupe in New Zealand?

The last two years have focused on implementing our strategy and acquiring additional capabilities. 2020 is all about execution. Now we can bring to bear our fully connected platform in New Zealand and I’m excited to see the results we can deliver for our clients.

For more information contact Lucy Sparks, Business Development, Publicis Groupe New Zealand.
[email protected] / Tel: +64 9 3555 000

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