Publicis CEO Eduardo Lorenzi talks about the agency’s business, diversity, inclusion and expectations for the year
It is interesting to think that a multinational the size of Publicis has turned its strategies towards regional communication. Publicis Brasil CEO Eduardo Lorenzi says that professionals who live in 40 cities in 20 different states currently work at the agency – the company will keep the work 100% remote.
“We cannot believe that a creative, planning or media team made up of people who live in Itaim knows how to talk about the reality of the rest of Brazil”, says the executive.
The agency already has Coletivo Nordeste, which brings insights from the region, and will create Coletivo Sul. In this interview, Lorenzi, who has just completed seven years at Publicis, also talks about creativity, data, business and other topics.
What’s new from Publicis?
One of the main ones is the reopening of the agency’s office. The purpose of the office will be a meeting place, a meeting place. This reform is precisely to transform half of the places in the agency that were eliminated into meeting space. We had five meeting rooms and we’re going to have 31. It’s a place to meet. We will continue to be a remote company and our policy is that whoever wants to, needs to come to the office, it can even be twice a week, but it won’t be mandatory.
Why did they come to this model?
We are clear that if we tell people that they have to come back, they will leave. The world has changed and it’s hard to go back. So much so that we are not calling back to the office, but about reopening the office, which will be there for anyone who wants to have a face-to-face meeting. People want to work with the flexibility they’ve gained. And not to mention that we hire people who are living in 40 cities in 20 different states. About 60 of our staff do not live in São Paulo. The good part is that today we have creative insights from all over Brazil.
How many people work at the agency today?
We are 442 employees at Publicis throughout Brazil.
And does the work work well on this 100% remote model?
Works well. We have nothing to complain about. It will be nice to reopen the office because face-to-face meetings help. But after the meeting the person will return home.
And what else is out there?
This year we have a number of things, like the relaunch of the Entre Project, which we are in the final phase of choosing participants. We had a record of 615 applications for 30 vacancies. It is very popular and difficult to choose, because there are a lot of good people. The course has been completely refurbished. We are now doing a lot of work before Entre and other things that will continue after it ends. There was a series of lectures, with preparatory content, before Entre and then we will accompany these students. The course is aimed at women in creation.
And are they hired by the agency?
The agency has vacancies, but cannot absorb 30 people in the creation. Entre has always been made for the market as a whole. We refer them to other Publicis agencies and even abroad. And this year we are establishing an operational partnership with Carreira Preta, which is helping with the entire formatting and especially in the pre- and post-course, which lasts three months.
How are business expectations?
This is a very complicated year because, in addition to the election, which will certainly be troubled, we have pressure from inflation, the dollar exchange rate and it is still a year of adjustment and normalization of supply chains. I think it will be a year in which, on the one hand, customers will hold demand a lot and there are customers who are the opposite, they will need a lot of communication to grow market share and stay ahead of competitors. On average, I think it’s going to be a good year for advertising as a whole. It’s a World Cup year too, which helps. It will be a very busy year, we have a very positive perspective of growth in several of our clients. We also have important festivals this year, like Rock in Rio with Heineken, which is the agency’s sponsor and client.
And how are you going to make up for the loss of Bradesco’s account?
The loss of Bradesco was something that had been discussed. Bradesco believes in communication cycles, regardless of whether the work is going well. We only had a positive result with the bank. This is important to say, because we didn’t have any demerits with Publicis’ work. It was a loss for us, obviously, but nothing prevents us from serving Bradesco again in the next cycle.
We readjusted the teams and are participating in several competition processes. As soon as we heard the news (of Bradesco’s departure), we communicated to all the teams. And as we have many open positions at Grupo Publicis, we directed the people who worked for Bradesco to these positions, both at Publicis for other clients and for other agencies.
Were you fired because of that?
No, what happened were layoffs that were already scheduled from people with low performance. These were isolated cases and involving professionals who were not part of the Bradesco team.
How is the diversity issue within the agency?
First, it is important to say that Grupo Publicis established the UNA Plan, which has a series of affirmative initiatives, such as, for example, a free English course for employees. Publicis is a multinational and many of our clients are even served in English. So, there is no way for a person to work at the agency without speaking English. But this is already a cut that leaves a lot of people out. One of these affirmative actions was to stop requiring English in hiring and teach the language to the person. The UNA Plan also has goals. Publicis Brasil started 2022 with the target for the year hit, which is to have 30% of the employees at the agency be black people and 20% in leadership positions. And by 2027 we expect to have 50% of the workforce with black employees.
And how is the participation of women in the agency?
Since 2017, women have made up 50% of the agency and today we have 60.37% of female employees, around 50% of whom are in leadership positions.
How important is diversity for business?
I think this is a very important point. There are a lot of companies that end up focusing on this from an ESG point of view or even focusing on the lack of the issue. This is not Publics’ view. We know that it helps in all this, but our focus is on power, on the work differential. When we think about these women, blacks and LGTQIA+ people all over Brazil, it makes our work better, it’s a strategic differentiator. Because, deep down, our role as an agency, our reason for existing, is to communicate the discourses of brands, products and services throughout Brazil. So, from the moment you have this country better represented within the agency, your work will inevitably get better, it will be deeper and truer. We cannot believe that a creative, planning or media team made up of people who live in Itaim knows how to talk about the reality of the rest of Brazil, of the peripheries. We need to have a much broader view within the agency. There are so many people from the Northeast, for example, working at the agency that we have a collective called Coletivo Nordeste. They are people who bring insights, visions and textures for the agency to speak with all the northeast of Brazil. And the next step is the creation of Coletivo Sul, which we also have enough people to form a subcommunity. All our customers need a regional look.
Are you investing in awards this year?
Yes, we have several entries in Cannes, with some works that can win prizes. It is very difficult to know what will happen in a jury room, but we have several important bets from different clients, such as Heineken, Bradesco and P&G. We had an important repercussion from a Heineken campaign that left TV screens black during prime time, all over Brazil, to save energy (the film is part of the Green Your City sustainability platform). It was an action that caught the attention of the international press.
How do you combine creativity with data?
Creativity is, and always will be, our reason for being. Publicis has a vision of a growth loop, in which on the one hand there is paid media, which we can buy for our customers, from TV to Google and Facebook display media; and on the other, all the clients’ proprietary platforms, websites, apps and, eventually, physical stores. And in the center, in the meeting of this, are precisely the data, which we not only collect and work to make the hearings, but also capture in this whole process. This blackout Heineken movie, for example, had a QR code to register and we got thousands of registrations from people interested in how to save energy. All this we do is to have better and better creative expressions. Customers want us to look at all that data and turn it into powerful insights.
Did the agency have any account achievements this year?
We conquered Braskem and had growth in some clients.
What does Publicis do to get out of the way in communication?
I will return to the question of data. At the agency, we have a data area with more than 30 people who study what we call the consumer journey, from various categories and sectors, in addition to audience building work, which is very relevant. To get out of the commonplace, there is both a creative and a media job. The first part of the work is strategic and creative to attract the attention of the consumer, the second part is the media work based on data to reach the person at the time they want to consume the content or the audience that is most interested in that type of subject. . For all this I need data. Without data today, it is impossible to succeed only in creative talent.