'S4 is too small, too narrow and, too yesterday': Publicis' Rishad Tobaccowala thinks ad holding giants will prevail despite competition from consultancies and new upstarts
- Publicis’ $4.4 billion acquisition of Alliance Data’s Epsilon makes the agency giant more relevant to its clients, Rishad Tobaccowala, Publicis’ chief growth officer, said.
- The French holding giant is well-positioned because it started to combine creativity, technology, and data five years ago, he said, speaking at Luma Partners’ Digital Media Summit on Tuesday.
- While Tobaccowala acknowledged the growing importance of consultancies in marketing, he dismissed S4, Sir Martin Sorrell’s new venture, calling it “too small, too narrow, and too yesterday.”
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Last month, French ad holding giant Publicis announced that it was shelling out $4.4 billion to acquire Alliance Data’s Epsilon marketing unit to bolster its data capabilities and expand its digital business in North America.
Rishad Tobaccowala, Publiciswww.publicisgroupe.comThat move makes the company more relevant to its clients, Rishad Tobaccowala, Publicis’ chief growth officer, said, speaking to former GroupM executive Rob Norman at the Luma Partners’ Digital Media Summit on Tuesday in New York City.
“First party data is going to be extremely important, and something that our clients are going to require to balance out what I think is an unfair balance of power,” said Tobaccowala. “Most of us are going to hopefully — if we can execute correctly — become more relevant to our clients.”
Publicis and other giant ad holding companies have tried to fight the dominance of Facebook and Google by acquiring data companies, examples being IPG acquiring Acxiom and Dentsu buying Merkle a few years ago.
Publicis is well-positioned because it started to combine creativity, technology, and data five years ago, said Tobaccowala. Adding businesses like Epsilon and Sapient and agencies such as Digitas will help Publicis serve clients’ broader business goals.
“We have gone through the terrible stuff of rewiring our organization, changing incentive systems, moving people around and bringing new talent — that’s really, really hard,” he said. “There’s an executional risk, but I like our chances.”
Tobaccowala acknowledged that consultancies like Accenture, Deloitte and Capgemini were encroaching on ad agencies. But he was dismissive of S4 Capital, the new venture launched by former WPP chief Sir Martin Sorrell that aims to build a new type of marketing services company on the back of technology, data and content.
Read More: Sir Martin Sorrell says the advertising industry reminds him of Burning Man, and should embrace ‘radical change’
“We would never estimate your old boss, but S4 is too small, too narrow, and too yesterday,” said Tobaccowala, asked by Norman what he thought of S4. “I’d much rather basically be Accenture or Publicis than S4.”
Business Insider asked Sorrell for comment, but hadn’t heard back at the time of publication.
On the big tech players, Tobaccowala called out Facebook, saying that it was causing the most damage in the near-term. While Google, Amazon and Microsoft were poised to be “far more dramatically impactful,” according to him, because they invest in not just advertising and data, but the cloud.
“They basically understand the future isn’t only digital, it’s across offline and online,” he said.
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