Collaboration not just ‘people sitting around a table, shaking hands and nodding heads’: Publicis’ Michael Rebelo

Looking back on the year that was 2021, Publicis Groupe ANZ CEO Michael Rebelo told Mumbrella that one of the group’s key achievements has been growing the breadth of services across its client base.

Speaking on this week’s Mumbrellacast, Rebelo said: “I think we’ve done pretty well this year. I would say that we’ve now got probably 16 out of our top 20 clients working with at least two of our services, which has grown incrementally, which is fantastic.”

2021 saw Toyota, Subway and recently revealed by Mumbrella, Johnson & Johnson all consolidate multiple services under the Publicis roof in Australia, a client base show of faith to the area Rebelo said it is working on.

Michael Rebelo

“We’re not here to try and be all things to all people. Not everyone wants the connected platforms. Sometimes clients just want to work with one of our creative agencies or one of our media agencies, or one of our PR agencies, and we’re really happy with that. But when they’re looking for a more strategically integrated solution, that’s when we’ve seen the growth.”

Rebelo, unlike most group roles in Australia, holds a CEO role where he is directly responsible for all of Publicis’ stable of agencies, media, creative and beyond. This also sees him sit on various industry boards, including the MFA and ACA.

Growth in clients wanting to working together, “isn’t just about collaboration, because anyone can achieve collaboration,” said Rebelo. “You can have a bunch of people sitting around a table, shaking hands and nodding heads and that’s collaboration in some people’s mind. What we’re trying to achieve here is really working as one.”

“We’re seeing when clients really want the partners to work as one, they’re coming to us. Those wins I talked about earlier, they’re the ones that are again validating this growth that we have seen this year.”

Rebelo said that in the next three or four years, the group will have a “real diversified business mix”, which will not just be about talent as a service, but “some real software as a service”.

“That’s going to be harder for us. It’s not really an area we’ve played in as an industry, we are looking at making some pioneering in-roads in that, but it’s taking a little bit more time than I would have liked because I’m impatient and I like to accelerate.”

Achieving this group integration, Rebelo said is partly helped by the “connected culture” developed across the group in recent years. The leadership across each of the agency brands, Rebelo said is made up of a “really great bunch of people, because we have a bit of a no-dickheads policy at the group”, who generally love working together.

“There is a bit of healthy tension in there too, and they’ll lean in, or step back and bring someone else in if they believe that there’s a better solution within the group, for a client’s particular brief, needs or engagement.”

Catch the full conversation this morning on the Mumbrellacast, the last of 2021. We will be back at the start of 2022 with more news analysis and industry interviews so be sure to subscribe to the Mumbrellacast, wherever you find your podcasts.


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