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Publicis Groupe beefs up creative tech offering with new regional lead

Publicis Groupe beefs up creative tech offering with new regional lead

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Publicis Groupe has beefed up its regional creative team with three key hires. Laurent Thevenet has joined as head of creative technology for Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa (APAC and MEA), based in Singapore. Anna Tomasetti has come on board as creative community manager, APAC and MEA, while Barbara Messer has joined as head of creative PR, APAC and MEA. They report to Natalie Lam (pictured left), chief creative officer, APAC and MEA, and will work with her to strengthen the creative community and creative product across the region.

Thevenet (pictured second from left) was previously with R/GA Singapore where he was executive technology director, overseeing work across Southeast Asia and having led projects across China, India, the Middle East and Australia. He founded the APAC R/GA Prototype Studio in 2016 – the only studio of its kind outside of R/GA New York, which developed prototypes for clients such as Nike, Uber, Google, Siemens and Nikon.

He moved to Singapore in 2008 and joined the ad industry in 2012 a year after running an eCommerce startup, a web TV channel, and an interactive studio. He recently led the product strategy, design and architecture of the Zig app, made from scratch in less than one year. Other projects he has worked on include a personalised music video for Uber based on user riding data and a network of connected basketball courts for the Nike China Rise Academy.

According to Thevenet, joining Publicis Groupe was the obvious choice for him. "I’m an engineer by training but have always worked at the intersection of music, art, creativity and technology, which makes the role a perfect fit. The scale of Publicis Groupe, the spectrum of its skills and capabilities, and the opportunity to impact work across so many offices was irresistible. I’m fascinated by the possibilities in a region that’s home to some of the world’s most populous and technologically advanced markets," he said.

Lam added that Thevenet is many things: a thinker, maker, musician and coder who knows the latest about all things tech and brand values. Having him in the Groupe will bring firepower and magic to help its clients connect with their audience in a region full of rich traditions and big ambitions for the future, she explained.

Meanwhile, Tomasetti (pictured second from right) joins with 10 years of wide-ranging experiences in the film and advertising industries. After two years as director of the Canberra Short Film Festival, she joined Cannes Lions, Dubai Lynx and Spikes Asia as awards manager and communications officer. During that time, she implemented See it Be It, a diversity program for the biggest creative festivals in the MENA and APAC regions. She was also director of Black and White Report in Dubai, an independent organisation that supports and nurtures creativity and emerging talent in the Middle East and North Africa.

While Tomasetti acknowledged that building a connective tissue between creative teams across three continents and eight time zones is certainly a challenge, she also views it as a very exciting journey ahead. "I truly believe in the power of connections that help us thrive in both work and life, and I can only try my hardest to inspire our regional creative community to be a part of that vision," she said.

At the same time, Messer (pictured right) joins Publicis Groupe with almost 20 years of journalism, communications and awards experience. She began her career as a creative industries reporter and editor, later partnering with some of Australia’s most acclaimed agencies to grow their creative reputations globally as a PR specialist. As global editor for AD STARS and ADFEST, she has helped to raise the profile of creative brands, agencies and leaders across the Asia Pacific, and remains a passionate advocate for the creative industries globally.

“I’ve always loved telling other people’s stories and seeing the world through their eyes, which makes this a dream role for me: there are so many talented creatives at Publicis Groupe with incredible stories to share about their process, inspirations and ideas,” Messer added.

According to Lam, Publicis Groupe now has the best team to unite its talent as a true community, build a strong creative culture across the region, and make the Groupe the best place for all creative talent to be in. When asked about the type of talent and skills she is looking for, Lam said she seeks individuals who are experts in what they do and who are super open-minded, curious, experienced yet still deeply hands on. "Someone who sees the big picture yet is obsessed with details. Most importantly, nice and fun," she explained.

Lam joined the Groupe earlier this year from Google New York where she led the creative team for art, copy and code. Over the years, she has worked on many global brands including Coke, Mercedes, Spotify, Nike and Instagram. She is now six months into the newly created role and reports to Loris Nold, CEO Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa, Publicis Groupe. She described her journey to MARKETING-INTERACTIVE as "incredible, non-stop, always more to discover and learn, infinite opportunities".

"If I could learn one thing, and hopefully offer one thing back to everyone I’ve met and have yet to meet, it’ll take a few lifetimes. As a whole, I want to encourage more modern and relevant work, modern in terms of ideas and craft, and relevant as in relatable to our audience, their cultural context, the lives they live and tools they use to earn trust and love for our brands," Lam said.

Looking ahead, Lam plans to do more idea- and brand-driven "digital-light" work,  lead with a simple big idea but made magical with very simple tech, whether it’s data, AR - but not digital for digital’s sake. She also aims to further connect the vast creative community and make everyone proud of being here. 

"APAC is many cultures and the world hasn’t really seen who we truly are yet, through the work we do. The whole world loves K-pop as an Asian culture export, and I’d love to show the world more through our work. MEA has big ambitions for a tech-driven future, some of the plans seem straight out of sci-fi," she added.

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