Bassel Kakish, Group CEO for Publicis Groupe Middle East & Turkey, explains the Power of One model and how, with the creation of Studio M, it brings all of the Groupe's capabilities together under a transformative, bespoke agency solution specifically designed for McDonald’s GCC.
Integration vs specialization has been a debate for ages. In this context, how would you define the Power of One model?
The debate around integration vs specialization has certainly been long discussed and the industry has been divided on this. In the early 2000s, when channel ecosystems were less complex, there was a natural level of integration with creative agency teams often sitting side by side with digital and media colleagues. However, the past 15-20 years have been fuelled by specialization, which has introduced many client benefits and new expertise to our industry but has also led to the unintended creation of silos, complexity, and potential inefficiency if not well managed.
In parallel, during this time we have witnessed exponential growth in new media platforms, omnichannel experiences, and the need to decode complex customer journeys. Data became king in the face of adversity, with data privacy laws and cookie deprecation. Consumers today are savvier than ever, hold the power when it comes to the brands they interact with, and expect hyper-personalized engagements across channels. Yet, in the context of all this change, it was clear that clients wanted less complexity, more agility, and clearer transformative value that could be translated into a measurable impact.
Evolving alongside this, Publicis Groupe transformed its business model and organizational structure to put clients at its core by facilitating access to all of our services in a fluid, modular way fostering seamless collaboration organizationally and culturally across the Groupe under the Power of One.
The Power of One is both our model and our culture. It explains our ability to help our clients unlock growth in the platform world, driven by a common purpose, a powerful spirit, shared behaviors, great character, and a relentless focus on our clients. By fusing together our creative, intelligence, and technology expertise, we are able to provide clients with transformative ideas and consumer experiences, unlike any other agency or holding company.
How was Studio M born and how does this work on a day-to-day basis internally and with McDonald’s? What does this entail practically in terms of adjustment to the infrastructure and processes?
The Middle East, demographically, has the youngest population per capita in the world growing up as digital natives. To remain relevant, McDonald’s GCC needed a refreshed approach to not only connect and engage with their dynamic customers but to accelerate and innovate ahead of them. They knew they could derive greater levels of effectiveness and efficiency from integration, capitalizing on speed and agility. After a robust RFP process, Studio M was born with a start-up mentality – a transformative, bespoke agency solution designed for McDonald’s GCC.
Operating under the Power of One model, Studio M has a regional core leadership team made up of the key disciplines of strategy, creative, media, influence & PR, data, commerce, tech, and customer experience, to drive the McDonald’s GCC brand and business with agility. Led by a Business Lead, Studio M is designed to manage both the regular campaign frameworks, from ideation to execution, and transformation initiatives where teams work in tandem, orchestrating with partner tech or data as needed to deliver seamless marketing solutions and drive their overall commerce experience. The team operates in efficient squads that are formed with specific Studio M capabilities, bringing the best of Publicis Groupe’s capabilities to accelerate new opportunities such as app, gaming, or platform initiatives.
Studio M’s start-up mindset means that we are constantly focused on the development of new solutions to drive growth, competitive advantage, and in-market capabilities. The Studio M team works proactively together with McDonald’s GCC to define the marketing calendar, identify new opportunities, drive marketing strategies, and develop strategic capability-building transformation roadmaps and partnerships, all of which serve the client’s business objectives. This end-to-end relationship also extends beyond the regional client and connects to the individual GCC markets where Studio M works directly to provide recommendations, consultancy, and content. This frictionless ecosystem ensures that all stakeholders are focused on brand and business growth with clear measures of success to drive effectiveness and optimization.
What are some of the challenges, solutions, and opportunities/benefits of this seamless, integrated approach?
First, leadership, commitment, and experience are critical to the success of operating such units. A successful outcome starts with a mutual commitment from both the client and the team and having the right leadership in place to drive the Power of One model. Publicis Groupe has had years of success operating similar Power of One units globally and the Middle East is no exception. We leverage both the local experience as well as the collective knowledge from our colleagues globally to fuel these Power of One operations with best practices to constantly evolve our clients' businesses and meet their transformative needs.
Secondly, access to data and transforming it into meaningful insights is another recurring challenge for most businesses and marketers. Studio M partners closely with McDonald’s GCC, their Developmental Licensors, and their data to fuel real insights through our BI solutions. For example, early on in this partnership, we worked closely with McDonald’s GCC to stitch data from 25+ fragmented sources (website, app, competitive, research, social & digital media, etc.) to create one unified view, providing meaningful insights in real time. These types of capabilities enable Studio M to truly leverage available data and most importantly interpret insights from them – brand, consumer, and business insights – and we have found that by acting on those opportunities, the brand and the business have both benefited. The other key benefit, of course, is that these tech-fuelled capabilities have also enabled us to not only increase campaign performance effectiveness but also real-time optimisation, shorter reporting timelines, and overall contribute to more efficiency and agility – all fuelling higher marketing ROI.
Thirdly, shifting mindset and culture from a traditional, siloed set-up to a unified, seamless model is a challenge in itself as change does not happen overnight. The Power of One operation is the antithesis of how people tend to behave in their day to day. It is about unlocking the benefits of the power of many acting as one; only by doing so do can we fully unleash the potential of these units to truly impact our client’s businesses. By enabling the talents and technology to operate seamlessly, without friction, as an extension of the client themselves, we believe that we will consistently deliver unprecedented levels of partnership, efficiency, and effectiveness.
Can the Power of One approach be only considered for larger clients or can it be scaled?
The Power of One approach is beneficial to all clients irrespective of size because businesses today are facing very similar challenges and they will require a partner who can provide that breadth of expertise, experience, and access without the traditional complexity or barriers that exist. Clients today demand less complexity, more ownership, more efficiency, and an effectiveness mindset in their agency partner, and the Power of One model delivers on that. As long as we have a genuine partnership and commitment with the client, a Power of One model can be scaled to suit any client’s marketing and business objectives.