Q&A: Publicis Dialog’s Nicolas Zunz

NEW YORK Nicolas Zunz, co-president of Publicis Dialog in Paris, reflects on his new role as chairman of a French magazine and Web site that Publicis Groupe acquired last week from Unilever. The customer relationship management property, known as Pour Tout Vous Dire (“For Everything You Say”), features some 30 Unilever brands in a blend of original content, branding and coupons all geared toward mothers. In an interview with senior reporter Andrew McMains, Zunz discusses the types of brands he’d like to add to the mix and the potential for expanding into new markets and media channels.

Adweek: Why did Unilever want to sell this property?

Zunz: They need some experts on the Internet and CRM to develop the platform because they don’t have enough expertise inside the company. Also, they’ve seen that the brand portfolio of Unilever isn’t [broad] enough for the shopping needs of consumers. So, they decided to find a new partner with a bit of a larger portfolio to [help www.pourtoutvousdire.com] become an important Web site, a destination Web site where a consumer can go and find all the vouchers for their shopping needs.

Why was this property so appealing to Publicis Groupe?

Because we already have a lot of big, national brands here like Nestle or L’Oreal. And we can find a brand portfolio that’s very complementary to the Unilever portfolio. Unilever doesn’t have brands in chocolate, coffee, milk products or drinks. So we can find in the Publicis portfolio some big companies and some big brands that are able to join the Web site and complement the offer.

Can you also include Procter & Gamble brands in that mix?

Yes.

It would be unusual to have both Procter and Unilever on the same Web site.

The contract with Unilever is very clear about this. We can have some brands from Procter & Gamble if they’re not [direct] competitors with the brands of Unilever. So, it’s a huge opportunity for Procter & Gamble in France. We have to just find the good brands that are not direct category competitors.

How does this property fit into Publicis Dialog’s broader CRM offering?

We have a lot of CRM programs in France, [but] not a huge program like this. . . So, it’s a new way for the group to manage a CRM program. In France, we have all the media expertise — also in digital — to manage this kind of program. 

How many work for this Unilever subsidiary?

It’s about 10 or 15 people. In France, Dialog has 350 people. 

What was their previous business model?

All the brands of the portfolio paid every year for the program. They had a system to measure the incremental turnover [sales gains], year-over-year from the original investment in the program. Under Publicis, we will change this. We will continue to calculate the year-over-year [results] for the program, but we will put the program into an open architecture. We will propose a lot of tools for the brands to manage a relationship with consumers.

Do you plan to expand beyond the French market?

It’s truly the occasion for Publicis to develop this kind of CRM platform in other countries because we can decide to propose this kind of collaboration with a Nestle or with Procter & Gamble.

Do you foresee expanding the property to other media channels, such as mobile devices?

We are looking for some action around mobile. But, for the moment, we don’t have a big database with this kind of media. For the new version of the Web site, which will launch in the beginning of 2010, we can maybe launch a big campaign, a media campaign to create traffic on the new Web site.

What’s the circulation of the print magazine?

It’s about 2 million.

How often does it come out?

Three times a year.

How many pages does it run?

Between 16 and 24.

What types brands would not fit here? Could you use a car brand?

No, we really want to focus on the daily brands, the brands we can find in your supermarket, because it’s the positioning of the site. I don’t know if it’s the same problem in the U.S., but in France the national brands are [under attack] by private label brands. For the moment, the business is very hot for them. We want to help the [name] brands to be more confident, to . . . explain why they are sometimes more expensive. They invest for innovation, they invest for new products, they invest for quality and we want to give them a platform to explain this and to help [sell] products.

The current site has a Unilever logo at the bottom to indicate that it’s sponsored content. When you re-launch next year, how will you continue to make it clear that this is a form of marketing?

We don’t become the CRM agency for Unilever. We build them a platform CRM in which Unilever becomes a partner — a privileged partner, sure, but not an exclusive partner. So, it’s sure that the Unilever logo will disappear. We’re going in second plane, a second step for version two of the Web site.

How will you use this as a branding vehicle?

We want to be very close to consumers and give them a lot of content. They don’t use it very efficiently for the moment, but they have a lot of content, like recipes. We can create something very attractive with this. We want to organize it into a bigger, new platform of journalists to create exclusive content and to appear very, very attractive for the target. For sure, we have to find good equilibrium between the transactional side, with a very efficient engine and vouchers for [consumers’] shopping lists, with some content that’s very interesting.

For how long will Unilever remain involved in Pour Tout Vous Dire?

We have a contract with them to stay in the program for five years. We want to bet that turnover of the program for their brands will increase and they will stay with us for a long time. In France, certain brands are very important to us [for] the continuity they give us in our portfolio.