CLOSE-UP: GLOBAL BRIEF; Publicis network wins friends

AdNET has impressed the industry with its versatile nature, Richard Cook says

AdNET has impressed the industry with its versatile nature, Richard Cook


When advertising agencies start to make claims about their own, rather

than their client’s computer systems, it is clear that something odd is

happening. When the computer clients themselves join in the praise it is

clear something is very strange indeed.

And yet that is the situation that Publicis finds itself in with its

AdNET system. Last week the agency picked up Hewlett-Packard’s pounds 20

million pan-European branding account (Campaign, 12 April). And Garth

Philips, advertisement manager at the relevant HP division, cited the

AdNET system as the deal clincher.

Versions of this apparently innovative system are in fact already used

by Coca-Cola and by M&C Saatchi and British Airways across 56 markets.

But what does it do, and is it really the wonder system Publicis thinks

it is?

The first thing to know is that AdNET’s functions are really very

simple. It replaces the fax-machine and e-mail - it means print and

broadcast ads can be transmitted in digital form around the network, and

it performs detailed project management tasks.

At the touch of a button a client or account handler anywhere within the

network can call up the brief, the storyboard, versions of the ad, or

the finished product. They can find out at what stage the commercial has

been left, they can call up media-spend data or they can access

production cost summaries. And that’s it. It won’t sing or tap-dance

across the table. It just makes it easier, for example, for local teams

to tailor multinational ads for their own markets, or for the client to

know exactly how the timetable for its campaign is working out.

‘The fact of the matter is that we could use a version of the system for

almost any account,’ Tim Keogh, a Publicis account director, says. ‘But

because international accounts can be so complicated it works much

better with them. The admin efficiencies can be considerable. It’s

incredible, for example, just how much time is lost by people standing

around the fax machine.’

If that doesn’t sound like the white heat of a technological revolution,

that’s the point about AdNET - there’s actually nothing particularly

avant garde about the software, based on Lotus Notes. What is unusual is

how well it has been adapted to the requirements of an international ad


Keogh says there are no plans to license the system, and while M&C

Saatchi uses it on the British Airways business it handles with

Publicis, there is no suggestion that this co-operation will extend to

other M&C Saatchi clients.

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