Editorial: If Denuo creates a buzz, all the industry benefits

Publicis Groupe's launch of Denuo, a unit that offers strategic advice to clients on the possibilities of digital media, makes excellent business sense. The internet might be growing faster than any other medium, but that growth is coming despite an almost universal ignorance about new media among agency networks and client companies alike.

This lack of understanding is not that surprising: after all, agencies have had 50 years to hone their TV creative and buying skills, but scarcely a decade to get their collective heads around the potential of new media.

What the sector seems to be missing is a brilliant new creative idea for clients to get excited about. And although Denuo's management team hails primarily from media and strategy backgrounds, it will be able to call on creative talent from across Publicis to help it produce groundbreaking digital work. Rishad Tobaccowala, though a relative unknown in the UK, is an ideal choice to lead the initiative. As one of the digital industry's most respected veterans, he has both the gravitas to impress senior clients and the technical knowledge of the medium itself.

Tobaccowala is a former president of Starcom IP (the agency's internet arm) and was the driving force behind Leo Burnett's interactive unit, which he co-founded in 1993. He is a regular on the US conference circuit, was named one of Time's top five marketing innovators and was described by BusinessWeek as a "new-media ad guru".

He is also known in the US for his eye-watering statements about the future of the business, including "at some stage, it will become more expensive to buy Google than to buy network television", and "the spine of our business has collapsed and what we are looking at are the organs, blood and connective tissue on the floor in a pile of goo".

If what he says is right, fundamental change lies ahead and Publicis' new strategic unit will be leading that change. Not only that, but Denuo might even help the medium it is designed to exploit: if it does achieve its aim of making digital marketing more accessible to clients, that can only help the medium grow even faster than it has done so far.


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