Publicis Creates a New Data Division Called Spine, and Shifts DigitasLBi to Its Media Hub

It will handle data assets, tech and talent

Publicis Groupe launches Spine, a unit dedicated to handling its data and tech assets.

Publicis Groupe launched a new unit today called Publicis Spine that will handle data assets, tech and talent across its global media network. The holding group has also extended the massive restructuring effort that started in early 2016 by effectively reclassifying DigitasLBi as a media organization.

According to the release, Spine will feature new assets including PeopleCloud, a cloud-based platform that will identify sources of client growth at an individual level, and a centralized data and analytics team made up of 3,500 engineers, analysts and strategists. Publicis appointed Lisa Donohue, former Starcom global brand president, CEO. John Sheehy, president of global clients at Publicis Media, will assume her previous role.

DigitasLBi global chief data scientist Jason Kodish will now be chief data officer of Publicis Spine. Steve Simpson, who heads Publicis Media’s global analytics and insight practice, has been named president of PeopleCloud. He’ll report to Donohue, who in turn will report to Publicis Groupe CEO and chairman Arthur Sadoun and Publicis Media CEO Steve King.

“In today’s world, brand is the experience and the experience is the brand,” King said in a statement. “These capabilities will help us unlock that potential for clients, catalyzing their reinvention and growth, and creating a better experience for consumers.”

At the start of 2016, Publicis Groupe underwent a major restructuring, dividing its creative, media, healthcare and digital properties into four “hubs” including Publicis Communications, Publicis Media, Publicis Healthcare and Publicis.Sapient. DigitasLBi initially fell under the latter division.

According to the company, the decision to move DigitasLBi stemmed from a desire to create “a unique agency hybrid of creativity, media, data and technology, seamless access to additional scalable data and media resources.” As part of the repositioning, Michael Kahn will take over as global president of DigitasLBi, replacing Nigel Vaz, who will now head “digital business transformation efforts” under Publicis.Sapient while retaining his position as CEO of Publicis.Sapient EMEA and APAC.

Kahn hails from Publicis-owned performance marketing agency Performics, where he served as global brand president. David Gould, previously chief delivery officer of Performics, will succeed Kahn in his former role.

“These moves are the natural next steps in the development of our model, further strengthening capability on both the marketing and business transformation fronts and, importantly, closely interconnecting them, fueled by all of our data expertise,” Sadoun said in a statement.

Publicis Spine appears to be unrelated to Marcel, the AI “professional assistant” first announced to the world this summer after the group told its 80,000 employees that they would not be entering any awards shows for the next 12 months.