Sebastian Dreyfus of Rosetta: I’ve looked into the future and it’s all about customer engagement

S. Dreyfus_0513.jpgPublicis Groupe bought US-based consultancy Rosetta for $575m in 2011. It was recently described as the best-performing business among PG’s digital agencies and is the only one to stay independent of the agency group’s VivaKi media holding company. But what exactly does it do? Europe managing director Sebstian Dreyfus (left) explains.


Rosetta is described as a consulting-based digital agency within Publicis Groupe, the only one outside the VivaKi media grouping. What exactly do you do for your clients?

Rosetta is unique. It has managed to combine the deep customer insights and analytics you’d expect from a consulting firm, extensive technological expertise and the ability to create personal, relevant experiences to drive meaningful business growth for our clients. We are the Customer Engagement agency for the Empowered Age. We leverage technology in ways that improve engagement, which increases customer satisfaction, loyalty, and advocacy. We use our knowledge of who customers are and what they want to develop distinct and meaningful brand experiences which are authentic, personal and develop lasting relationships between consumers and brands that provide value to both sides.

How did you become involved with Rosetta?

After setting up my own business in 2012/3, I was approached by an old colleague from my Publicis Modem days who asked whether I wanted to do it again, since building businesses is something that I enjoy. And as I passionately believe the future of our industry is at the nexus of technology, data and creativity, Rosetta seemed the perfect opportunity for my next venture.

Who do you compete with? Digital agencies, media agencies or management consultants? Or all of them?

We have three core pillars of our business. For our consultancy business, it is companies like Accenture and McKinsey. Our technology business regularly spars with businesses like Salmon and Sapient Nitro. Our creative engagement businesses go up against agencies like Wunderman and Razorfish. But none of these agencies have all the capabilities and expertise that we do. When you combine these pillars to deliver true Customer Engagement solutions, our competitive set compares favorably with agencies like OgilvyOne.

London is the first Rosetta office outside the US. Does your offer differ outside the US? How big do you think the network can grow?

While we offer the same services as the States, we are new, so some of our more specialised technological services are still managed out of the US. But with the hiring of Clare McDonald as our ECD (the ex-ECD of Sky), we have chosen to focus more on developing rich omni-channel creative skills capable of creating compelling and engaging narratives. My intention is to build a European network with offices in the UK, France and Germany. Expansion beyond that will depend on our M&A strategy, skill availability and client demand. Rosetta intends to become a global brand, and has opportunities for expansion in the Asia/Pacific and Latin America regions already in the pipeline.

A cynic might say that the big marcoms holding companies are expert at devising new services and persuading clients that they need them. Is this a fair comment or does what you do answer a clear business need?

While many holding companies do struggle with legacy brands in their portfolio and have had to rebrand them, Rosetta is a recent acquisition for the Publicis Groupe. It is a business that has evolved over the past 13 years by maintaining its ability to be a genuine engine for growth for its clients. Technology has always been at its heart, but over the past eight years, it has integrated the consultancy business into the heart of its operation, which enables us to be not just a marketing agency, but a partner in driving business growth. As client’s needs have become more complex, Rosetta has managed to use its deep understanding of technology and business to consistently deliver meaningful value.

It’s quite hard these days to see where advertising stops and technology starts – and vice versa. How do you think this picture will look in, say, five years’ time?

Technology has given marketers a far more accurate and connected view of their target audience and their behaviour. As customers engage with brands they leave digital footprints — this data is a massive opportunity for businesses to understand, mine and leverage for mutual benefit. The future is about not only selling a product but also an experience. For businesses to truly deliver on that ambition, their marketing and sales departments need to combine into a single operation.

This means that future agencies will need to understand not only the brand, but also how technology connects their customers across an omnichannel e-commerce experience with data being the connective narrative. It will be an exciting future that demands technological imagination, behavioural intelligence and data story telling… so the future looks bright for Rosetta.

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