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01/03/2006

Is Publicis missing a PR trick with Denuo?

Denuo

The New York Times carries a piece today profiling the new "futures practice" from Paris-based marketing services giant Publicis, called Denuo.

The head of Denuo, Rishad Tobaccowala explains the motivation behind setting up the group:

"A lot of companies and clients are confused about tomorrow," Mr. Tobaccowala noted. "They didn't look like they were getting the answers they needed."

Denuo seems to be effectively an issues task force, new services division and R&D department rolled into one, rather than a company with defined approaches and business models.

Denuo sounds great but it is concerning not to see top PR minds at its top table. The talent in the team seems to come from a digital marketing, advertising and research angle. There's a danger that they are missing the one part of the communications mix that can help them engage with social media element of new media on the right terms, that is able to advise properly on conversation, dialogue, connecting across networks and distributing / amplifying content across them.

I wonder why that is. Maybe I'm missing something here - but there are some bright PR blogging minds at companies like Ogilvy - why aren't they in this group? Maybe they are in some way, but if so they don't seem to be shouting about it.

At the end of the day, despite the lack of a holistic comms approach (i.e. one that includes PR), I think Publicis is making a canny move here, and one which it admits is out of character for a super-heavyweight marketing group like itself:

Mr. Tobaccowala acknowledged that the venture was an unusual experiment for Publicis, but he said it would be better to unleash the forces of creative destruction internally than to watch others — like Google — reap the eventual benefits.

"If parts of the company need to be blown up, you might as well get the bomb thrower to come from somewhere you know and trust," he said.

Good call, I'd say. Watch closely PR colleagues, this is advertising and bought-space marketing making its best play for the new spaces on the web. As the Denuo website says, they have put serious investment and some of their best minds on the case with this venture.

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Comments

I'd have to agree with you on the lack of PR bods there. Part of me wonders though if the shortage of PR bods is indicative of the state of the (UK) PR industry anyway. So many agencies (even with digital arms) seem to be stuck in a bit of a time warp and the emergence of new technologies will be adopted only once people like Denuo (sounds a bit too much like "Dunno" to me!!) have taken "Web 2.0" by the scruff of its neck, understood it, then brought it to the masses - by which time the conventional agencies (full service AND specialist PR) will be learning the ropes still.

You've got to applaud Publicis for this move and I hope works for them - too few companies take the risk of using the current technologies once they have become mainstream, then struggling to find the resources to look for the next.

CORRECTION:

You've got to applaud Publicis for this move and I hope works for them - too MANY companies take the risk of using the current technologies once they have become mainstream, then struggling to find the resources to look for the next.

Hear hear, Paul. And I defintely do applaud them.

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