Publicis brings Montreal agencies into one office

The new "Pool" model will allow the company to create collaborative working groups based around expertise, not agency brand.

Publicis Groupe has unveiled a new working model in Montreal, bringing its seven agencies together into a single, shared office.

Called the “Pool,” all Publicis agencies in Montreal have been brought together in the city’s Mile-Ex neighbourhood. All of the shops will retain their identities, teams and clients, but will be able to create working groups comprised of staff from all the agencies, as a project or mandate dictates and no conflict exists.

The change impacts all of the holding company’s agencies in the city: creative shops Publicis and Martel & Cie; media agencies Spark Foundry and Zenith; digital and technology agency Nurun; and PR agencies MSL and North Strategic.

There aren’t any changes to the roughly 300 staff and senior leadership at the agencies expected as part of the new initiative. However, Rachelle Claveau, president of Publicis Montréal, and Christian Ayotte, president of Nurun Montréal, have taken on the additional roles of “co-ambassadors,” representing the “vision” of the Pool and communicating that message to the marketplace.

“We can benefit from each other’s expertise and knowledge to address problems that will come our way,” Claveau says. “It’s the proximity that’s super important. We’re going to be making teams independent of structures or silos. We’re going to be building teams with the best people, no matter what banner they sit under. We’re not destroying the agency brands and their individual culture remains important, but we’re adding a layer of collaboration and unlocking more opportunities for our clients.”

On a global level, the last several years has seen Publicis attempt to find ways to be more collaborative between different regions and agency brands as part of its “Power of One” approach. The teams in Montreal will continue to collaborate across borders with Publicis talent in other cities and countries, but Duncan Bruce, president and CEO of Publicis Canada, says the “Pool” collaboration model is a way for the company to better understand and develop the entire customer journey for clients in Montreal and Canada.

“If you’re creating a customer journey with media and their data in some other building, that’s a problem,” Bruce says. “If you’re trying to figure out what to do with a website without Nurun in the room, that’s a problem. Transformation is a huge buzzword, and the transformation for a communications company is to have those disciplines sitting at the same table at the same time. It’s not about doing your part and moving the project on to the social or media people. They are building that customer journey together, and that makes it more organic, efficient and, I believe, effective.”

For clients, having a more holistic view should create a more consistent consumer experience and make the most out of brands’ budgets through a more efficient working model, Bruce says. At the individual level, Bruce adds that a benefit of this model is the ability for staff to expand their own point of view and execute around their own skills more effectively.

“Yes, staff are still focused on their line of business and what they do,” he says. “They have exposure to tools from any market that we can apply to their trade and to their clients. But it will also help them [not be] generalists, but expand their point of view and see how their own expertise impacts different areas of the customer journey they might not have seen otherwise.”

Bruce says this is part of a push from Publicis Groupe globally, and the opportunity to implement the “Pool” approach just happened to present itself in Montreal first. However, he does say the need to ensure “every dollar is being used to the maximum” is a particularly big benefit to clients in a market the size of Montreal.

Though exact timeframes haven’t been announced, Bruce says this kind of co-working model will eventually be implemented in Toronto and other cities.

“I believe it’s the way forward,” Bruce says. “This isn’t something that is going to just be in Montreal. I think the traditional agency cannot exist without this type of transformation. The days of having to send a piece out and wait until media or sponsorship gets it back to creative doesn’t work anymore.”

Publicis’ announcement comes one week after Bloomberg reported that WPP had signed a deal to be the anchor tenant at the Waterfront Innovation Centre, currently under construction in Toronto. The holding company will lease roughly 260,000 sq. ft. of the 400,000 sq. ft. of office space in the building to house all 19 of the companies it operates in Toronto, a list that includes Ogilvy, Taxi, JWT, Grey and GroupM.