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
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.