Publicis Deploys BSBot at Cannes to Call Out AI Hype – Adweek

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Artificial intelligence will undoubtedly be the big topic at Cannes Lions, and Publicis Groupe is prepared to dispel myths and reveal its huge AI capabilities, all while poking a bit of fun at the lofty promises companies are making about the technology.
From tech titans promising the creation of new worlds and the destruction of old industries, to legacy companies using AI as a catch-all solution, everyone has their own AI agendas to push, with each claim bolder than the next.
Rather than making big promises while puffing out its own chest, Publicis instead is having a bit of fun with a campaign showing that many AI claims are more hype than substance.

The video was created by Le Truc and pokes fun at AI’s biggest players, as well as Publicis and other holding companies.
Arthur Sadoun, chairman and CEO of Publicis Groupe, said the only thing more widespread than AI is the noise surrounding it, and conversations at Cannes will only amplify it further.
“AI is already helping to deliver some outstanding creative work, and I’m sure we’ll see more of that on the Croisette. But as an industry, we are at risk of trying to make AI everything, everywhere, all at once. Unlocking its full power means basing it on real data, making it ready for 1:1 marketing and ensuring it is relevant to specific business needs by designing for outcomes, not output,” Sadoun said in a statement.
To get people talking about the oversold capabilities of AI, Publicis created a BS detector bot where clients can upload images and text from keynote speeches, meetings, presentations, articles and press releases. They will then receive an immediate analysis that translates AI hype and jargon into real talk, while highlighting critical questions that should be asked.
Carla Serrano, chief strategy officer at Publicis Groupe, said that while AI can be extremely useful, the BSBot is intended to call out the industry on the “bizarre tech partners arms race,” with companies trying to one-up each other on which AI partners they work with (even though many use the same partners).
In addition, there is the obsession with generative AI, which they call prompt-palooza, touting all the prompts one can do without any thought to practicality or aesthetic. The third is using AI as a catch-all solution.
“If your company’s doing badly, oh don’t worry—AI is going to solve it,” Serrano joked.
The BSBot will launch on June 17 and be available exclusively to Groupe clients. A short demo shows how it all works.
It’s not lost on Publicis that they are essentially using AI to point out the BS in AI. “It’s very meta,” said Serrano.
The inspiration for the campaign came about after Davos, where all the heavy conversations were about the power of AI with nothing backing up the hype. Publicis decided to dig in and have its versions of AI be of use to clients rather than just high-tech parlor tricks.

Once clients have used the bot, they will be invited to one of 20 closed-door sessions at Cannes that suits their AI needs.
“Through our closed-door sessions, we will set out exactly how we can deliver that, through CoreAI, to accelerate our clients’ business and marketing transformation. But don’t tell the bot I said that,” Sadoun joked.
Serrano thinks this is the right time to have frank conversations about AI, and Cannes is the right setting for those conversations. Publicis has long touted its view that it’s a tech leader, and even launched a Marcel anniversary campaign last year at Cannes to celebrate its AI platform. This year, it is announcing expanded AI services.
Publicis looked at key verticals—CPG, automotive, automotive, financial services, pharma and luxury—and put together teams of strategists, data scientists and analysts, paired with Sapient development teams and Epsilon data teams. Then, they looked at how they could help the industry through machine learning, using Sapient, Bodhi and AI. The teams then built three apps across those five verticals, which is what Publicis is debuting in Cannes.
“We’ve already built the data models, and they’re all trained on the best data. They’re not recreating SaaS to do generative AI content and outputs, they’re more engineered for business outcomes and lift,” explained Scott Hagedorn, global chief solutions architect at Publicis.

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Publicis has uploaded a massive amount of data into its infrastructure, with 2.3 billion records globally from Epsilon, Sapient’s entire knowledge graph and all the data from Marcel. They integrated it with all the retail data from CitrusAd and Profitero, along with performance data from its media operating system, as well as having made specific syndicated data deals across all the different verticals, with Circana and Experian Automotive and others to enrich the data sets.
“Why we think having this data foundation for us is critically important, owning most of our data foundation, is that we think clients should be asking themselves, if you’re renting the data, are you really just renting the intelligence and have you fully thought through the business case?” asked Hagedorn.
The hope for clients with these new apps is to give them the ability to change the pace of their marketing to focus more on outcomes.
Without all the BS in place, Publicis hopes these real discussions about how AI can help with business solutions will spark positive changes in the industry.
Kyle O’Brien is a staff reporter for Adweek and editor of AgencySpy.
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