Cannes entries is a reminder to Publicis’ Sadoun that AI-powered Marcel is somewhat overdue

No wonder Publicis CEO Arthur Sadoun seems to have more grey hairs every time a new picture of him emerges.

It won’t be lost on the energetic Sadoun that entries for this year’s Cannes Lions are about to open – they need to be in before March 12 otherwise you’ll end up paying late fees, Cannes really is the gift that keeps on giving – as La Croisette was where he chose to announce he wasn’t entering the awards in 2017 as all the dosh was going into revolutionary new AI project management “platform” Marcel.

As yet, in 2020 with Cannes once again on the horizon, there’s no sign of the elusive Marcel. If there isn’t something to show at Cannes this year then Sadoun faces a highly embarrassing anniversary.

Yet Business Insider reports that Marcel is no nearer seeing the light of day despite the much-trumpeted appointment of Microsoft to help develop it after a pitch involving a mind-boggling 27 companies. The contract is said to be worth $30m.

This is even more embarrassing for Publicis because the ad holding company (that’s what it used to be anyway) is supposed to know about tech things. It already owned tech consultancy Sapient (now Publicis.Sapient) when Marcel was first mooted and now it has data firm Epsilon. Did it really need an expensive outsider to develop what seems to amount to an intranet with bells and whistles?

Of course Sadoun may confound us all and actually unveil a game-changing gizmo in June. This is what it’s supposed to do.

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About Stephen Foster

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Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.