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Mariusz Urbanczyk: “How Do We Solve the Problem of Tomorrow?”


Publicis Production’s chief client officer speaks to LBB about where he plans to take his new role and how to simplify processes in a complex industry

Mariusz Urbanczyk: “How Do We Solve the Problem of Tomorrow?”

Bringing over 20 years of management and production experience with him, Mariusz Urbanczyk joined Publicis Groupe’s production arm in recent months as chief client officer. The move was a part of the company’s mission to accelerate growth for its clients by bolstering the global leadership team.

Previously, Mariusz has led Hogarth in Brazil, Argentina and North America, and was formerly CEO of Papaya Films. As chief client officer at Publicis Production, he will be responsible for forging strong relationships with global brands throughout their transformation journeys.  In this interview with LBB, Mariusz shares what drew him to the company and what the production agency of today must look like in order to answer client challenges.

LBB> You recently joined Publicis Groupe and the Production leadership team. What drew you to Publicis and what are you most excited about?

Mariusz> I started my advertising career at Leo Burnett, which is part of Publicis. So there was a bit of sentiment there to work at the company where I first started my career.

Publicis has a unique positioning compared to other network companies in that it is much more integrated. Integrating other skills into the marketing supply chain tends to be difficult on a network level but Publicis has successfully achieved this with media and creative, and now production. That and the evident investment the company is making in production, puts Publicis Production in a very strong position to outshine its competitors and that was a powerful draw for me. 

Secondly, the people I met during the recruitment process were lovely. I always want to work for nice people - that’s how I’ve chosen all the jobs I’ve had because those are the individuals who you are going to be collaborating with all the time. That’s what really made the role attractive.

LBB> You have over 20 years of management and production experience. What have been some of your proudest career highlights so far?

Mariusz> I remember going to set up a successful operation in Brazil for Hogarth without knowing the language or much about the country. I think it was the greatest test of my ability and one of the biggest responsibilities I’ve ever had. It was the first time I actually felt that I can do things and it was objective, as I could see the results. It was very much a trial of my character and my strengths - to find myself in a completely foreign country and still be able to perform the job.

During this time, I've been so lucky to have so many amazing opportunities to work in six different countries with very different people across multiple cultures. Moving from Poland to Hungary was a great achievement for me. Then moving from Hungary to London to secure a big job at JWT was another huge achievement. I come from a very humble background and it’s not often you hear about someone from Poland who has such a big international career: I really appreciate it. 

Importantly, it’s given me a great understanding of cultural nuances and diversity and what it takes to win in the global world that is any global brand’s challenge: the leadership team Sergio (Publicis Groupe’s global head of production) has put together and his ambition are a reflection of that and I believe I will thrive here!

LBB> As chief client officer at Publicis Groupe, you will be responsible for forging strong relationships with global brands throughout their transformation journeys.  What factors go into building strong client relationships that last? 

Mariusz> Number one, it's about having real interest in a client's business and trying to understand where they are - what issues they are facing and what their goals are. Then it’s about looking at insights and finding ways to make things run better to overcome their roadblocks. It’s about distilling where the most important place to start is.

And the key is in building trust with them so that they know you are on their side. They can call you any time and feel listened to and assured that you are going to help them resolve their problem. This applies to any industry and any work relationship. 

But production is in an even more critical space from that point of view. With the digital revolution, then the platform take-over and now the data era, all coupled with constant tech innovation from AI-driven optimisation to virtual shooting, production has and continues to evolve so fast that many brands feel lost in that space. That’s where I feel my role will be critical: helping them make sense of it in the way that is right for them while future-proofing our approach because change is at high speed. 

LBB> How have you seen client needs changing in the last few years? What new challenges are they facing?

Mariusz> As I said, our clients haven’t faced change, they’re facing a revolution. 

The complexity of the world of advertising many years ago was very, very different. It was very much focused on big advertising campaigns and more generic target audiences. It took a lot of craft and time in order to develop the right strategy - sometimes up to 12-18 months to go from concept to final product. 

Now, the timings are radically different. You can’t wait that long to walk through the process of creation. The media mix has completely changed and the way you talk to different consumers has completely reshuffled. Everyone is trying to be more customer-centric now, and that means: right message at the right time in the right place, at an always-on pace. There are so many different media outlets, platforms, and possibilities. 

We can now also look at detailed data that we learn from and adapt to improve creative. The sheer amount of content and work across many platforms is a real challenge. It’s a complex war to navigate because I don’t see marketing teams growing as exponentially as the marketing possibilities.

LBB> What do you think the production agency of today must look like to address these changes and challenges?

Mariusz> Production partners should be there to try to simplify the process as much as possible by looking at the problem from multiple different angles. Then it’s about delivering with as little headache as possible and as cost and time efficient as possible. Our job is not just to deliver the final product but to look at processes. How can we simplify things? How can we make this part of the marketing supply chain better, faster, quicker, cheaper? And then through this funnel, produce amazing work that will cut-through the noise? 

Clients expect more strategic input from production. This is what the right partners will do when trying to solve problems - using their tools and knowledge to simplify this complexity and revolution whilst being a step ahead, ready for what’s coming.

LBB> How is Publicis Production set up to help businesses achieve this?

Mariusz> Publicis Groupe works on very close integration of media, creative and production - so the production discipline itself is not a silo - it's a part of a larger process. What we’re building for our clients is an overarching experience with us where things move smoothly and automatically from one site to another. We strive for a simple workflow that makes everything feel simple with as little back and forth as possible. We want to eliminate complexity and create meaningful connections across marketing disciplines that will improve our clients’ performance and ultimately growth. 

LBB> What are you most looking forward to seeing / achieving this year?

Mariusz> Since I’m fairly new to the job, currently I'm hoping to meet as many clients as humanly possible so that I can begin to learn and understand what they need. I want to identify not only what the individual client problems are but also what problems are shared between different clients. I’m excited to brainstorm new solutions because it's an ever- and fast-evolving world. If today is the status quo, tomorrow, this world can look completely different. We must be very future focused. 

So the real question is, how do we solve the problem of tomorrow?

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Publicis Worldwide, Wed, 15 Mar 2023 11:17:56 GMT