David Blecken
Jan 19, 2017

Publicis One names MD for Japan

The company’s integrated agency model makes a lot of sense, but is likely to prove challenging in practice. In Japan, the task of unification now falls on Floriane Tripolino.

Floriane Tripolino
Floriane Tripolino

Publicis One has named Floriane Tripolino as its managing director for Japan. Formed last year as a global initiative by Publicis Groupe to bring its agency brands closer together, the company comprises Beacon Communications, Saatchi & Saatchi and MSL Group in Japan.

Tripolino is French-Italian and a newcomer to Japan, having formerly worked as head of global clients for Asia-Pacific at Publicis in Singapore. She has also worked in France, Germany and Russia at a number of agencies including BBDO, Y&R and JWT.

Publicis One is led by Nicolas Menat in Asia, who is also based in Tokyo and was previously head of Beacon. Clients include P&G, L’Oréal, McDonald’s, Marlboro, Smirnoff, Mini and Lexus. The entity was formed largely in response to client complaints that working with a range of disconnected agency brands was too complex and inefficient. In Japan, MSL Group retains Eric Hess as MD, while Beacon and Saatchi & Saatchi no longer have individual leadership.

Tripolino said Publicis One’s focus in Japan is on multinational brands, which require different support and expertise to local-market clients—a combination of local insight and understanding of global strategy.

Tripolino admitted that having only moved to Japan in January, local insight is something she does not yet have. Her role is to draw on her international experience to bring a new perspective to the market. Like a number of agency heads, Tripolino said she sees investment from multinational brands returning to Japan, in part due to volatility in China, and in part due to Japan’s stability and wealthy, educated consumers who tend to have greater brand loyalty than in many other Asian markets.

Her role is also to preserve the best, specialist elements of the companies under Publicis One while ensuring they collaborate to serve client interests as effectively as possible. She said she expects the task to be somewhat easier in Japan than certain other markets since Beacon already incorporated several agencies including Starcom and ZenithOptimedia. Publicis One will retain Beacon’s relationship with Dentsu for media buying.

A distinct advantage of Publicis One is that it operates under a single P&L model, meaning decisions are made by “one person, not four or five”, Tripolino said. In theory, it also means client problems will be addressed based on what’s right, rather than on P&L considerations. And it “allows a smooth flow of resources to wherever they’re really needed”.

“I can take four people from MSL to help on a project for P&G, for example—that’s my choice,” Tripolino said. “I think this is a way to attract talent.” Still, enforcing collaboration between a relatively large number of people who have become accustomed to distinct cultures is “definitely not an easy exercise”, she admitted.

“There are tools we are using to make sure these entities collaborate in the right way,” Tripolino said. “But beyond tools it’s a question of mindset, and that’s where I will spend most of my time: how to distill a collaborative spirit within Publicis One. How to make sure that people really do believe that collaborating with each other will help to deliver a better outcome. It’s not something you can enforce without making it real. Really it’s about making one project happen and proving that it’s better to work this way.”

On the subject of transformation—something all agencies seem to be striving for and struggling with—Tripolino said she thinks the industry is at last “finding the right intersection between creativity and technology, a way to use technology to magnify the ideas we have”. To compete against relative newcomers to marketing from the consulting and technology sectors, she said agencies must not lose sight of creative thinking as a point of difference. “If you’re not able to tell a story [for a client brief], then let Accenture do it,” she said.

Campaign Japan

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