RJ Lewis (PMN): Hi, this is R.J. Lewis again here with Pharma Marketing Network. I am so excited to have the guest that we have today who has been an industry veteran and has been doing digital even longer than I have. I’m thrilled to have Rishad Tobaccowala with us. Rishad is the Chief Growth Officer at Publicis and he started way back in the days of Prodigy CompuServe and AOL as I did when I was at Physicians Online. But most interestingly, Rishad is what I like to call a really deep thinker if most people are, you know, that have a big picture view or flying at 30,000 feet. Rishad tends to be up in the stratosphere, looking down and getting an even wider lens looking at things and thinking about how these macro trends affect business and affect the marketer’s role within business. I’m thrilled to have him here today, Welcome.
Rishad Tobaccowala (Publicis): Thank you very much. I’m very happy to be here and to be invited.
RJ Lewis (PMN): So, Rishad, you talk about these connected ages and how we’ve kind of been through three, you know, the first one involving the old online services we talked about and things like the Netscape browser and connecting people to information in that way. The second one being social and mobile, being the second connected age if you will. And then this third one that we’re entering into now, which I’m hoping you can elaborate on for the audience.
Rishad Tobaccowala (Publicis): Sure. So the first one really was, as you mentioned, we connected to information and connected to transaction of which Google and Amazon are best known, and the next one was connected to people and connected all the time, which Apple and Facebook/ Twitter are what best known for. Now, this third connected age will have four different things. The first is data connecting to data, which is the way I described machine learning deep learning and AI. And in many ways, you know, we see that everywhere we see that whether it is machine learning being used in R&D, or machine learning being used, just to serve up your next television show or movie on Netflix. The next is things connecting to things which is the Internet of Things, which includes, by the way, a lot of different monitoring and other devices which we increasingly will be leveraging in the healthcare industry. The third one is basically new ways of connecting, of which voices the first one that has scaled 50 percent of all search on mobile is voice. There are over 50 million voice-enabled devices in people’s homes in the United States. And I anticipate that voice will be the healthcare technology or interface. Because when a patient cannot move or when they need to call for something, you know, to a great extent, voice has always been a great interface. And the last one is much faster ways of connecting of which 5G is the 2020 big indicator. And 5G basically allows two things to happen. One is as much fastest speeds, but the other is also zero to no latency. Which means for the first time this idea of even operating from a distance may be possible. So those are the key four drivers of the third connected age. AI, which is data connecting to data IoT which is things connecting to things. Voice today, maybe AI, I mean, AR and VR later, which is new ways of connecting, and finally much faster connections, which there is 5G.
RJ Lewis (PMN): That’s terrific. And all of those really have a lot of applications in healthcare. Some of the things you talked about Voice that’s already being piloted in hospitals now as a way to call your nurse for example.
Rishad Tobaccowala (Publicis): Exactly.
RJ Lewis (PMN): Where do you see healthcare innovation happening in particular? And I’m asking that question broadly, not just pharma, but hospitals, any of your clients that are in the healthcare arena, out of those areas, Which ones do you see the most innovation occurring in it? Do you have any examples of those?
Rishad Tobaccowala (Publicis): I have a broad sort of example. I think the first one is not surprisingly, across all of the pharmaceutical companies, they’re actually leveraging in everything from drug development to testing, machine learning, because in many ways, you know, AI is simulating stuff. And to great extent, where artificial intelligence and biotechnology come together is where “We will have that great moment of singularity.” So everything that has to basically do by extending both our intelligence or extending the intelligence of R&D is done by in a machine. I think devices, whether they be as simple as the Apple four watch with the heartbeat, another monitor and the way to basically if you fall for them to call a hospital or call someone you love is another way with the IoT of the things. Voice that you described, and I believe it’s going to increasingly be not only calling the hospital or someone calling a nurse, but it will basically be the easy way for people to actually get home care. And there is something really remarkable, there are companies operating now in Japan, who actually bring these like homecare almost like little robots that monitor look after you and talk to you and there is a combination of voice and IoT and machine learning all combined. So these things obviously work together. As I explained to people, you know, something like Alexa is both an IoT it’s an Internet of Things, it basically will become even more prevalent and easier to fasted use with 5G, but clearly, the way it operates, it uses machine learning and produces a voice interface. So the other thing to recognize is all of these will blend into each other. The really big breakthroughs I don’t think we can anticipate, because the big breakthrough of the second connected age, which was us connecting to everybody and us connecting all the time, with things like Airbnb and Uber, because what that basically did is, you know, without mobile and without recommendations with social network traffic, you would not able to either get a car or feel safe getting into a car. So between those two plus mapping is what made these companies come around. So I think the big thing in healthcare will be how these blend together and how a lot of innovative people whether they be at hospitals, companies, agencies, or pharmaceuticals, and other places utilize and leverage them.
RJ Lewis (PMN): Yeah, that is fascinating. I’m excited about the third connected age, in part because our industry within pharma kind of has a reputation of being a laggard because it’s so highly regulated. And because lawyers are in charge of so much, we tend to move a little slower. But I’m not sure how you feel about this. And I’d like to get your insights. I think in this third connected age, where data is talking to data, things are talking to things and we’re all seeing we’re already seeing this a little bit with some of the talks about breaking up some of the big players, I think privacy will actually re-emerge and have a much more significant role. And in some ways, I think that sets pharma up to kind of leapfrog as a leader in this space because at least we already have very clear privacy laws within the healthcare space. Everybody might not like them all, but at least they exist whereas I think the Facebook’s, the Googles, the Amazons, they’re still trying to figure out how far can they push that without getting broken up. What are your thoughts about pharma potentially being able to kind of take a leadership role in this?
Rishad Tobaccowala (Publicis): I do believe it will take a leadership role for four reasons. First, and most importantly, is the one you mentioned, which basically is Privacy. The second one, which is different than privacy, but also extremely important, is Confidentiality/Regulation. You know, you tend not to basically want a lot of your information free-floating along, and there are a clear set of regulations. The third and fourth. Third is there is clearly an increase at emphasis on how do we actually find ways to cut costs but do so in a way where the pressure has not come on, necessarily to the doctor and to the nurses. I don’t know if you saw recently it was last week or the week before this wonderful article. I think it was a New York Times from a doctor who basically shows that for everyone, you know, medical person, there are 10 administrators. And to a great extent the a lot of these things will I think eliminate the administrative burden and the administrative costs because a big part of healthcare costs are two. One is all the administration and regulation and other costs, which we don’t necessarily, I’m not saying that isn’t necessary, but do you need to have 10 to one ratio? Probably not. Right? And then the other one is, you know, how do you basically find ways the other cost is simply the cost of breakthrough drugs. And, you know, they save millions of dollars in both long term costs and obviously save lives which are immeasurable. But when people hear about, you know, 200,000 to $2 million a treatment people get all freaked out. And a big part of it is the R&D process has also been not only slow but hasn’t been put on steroids with what I think AI and other things can do. So I think the reason why it’ll be great in this category is one is privacy, second is regulations/confidentiality, third is amazing ways of eliminating costs, which are costs that don’t end up being in beneficial in any way to the ultimate outcome, and the fourth is finding ways to scale R&D.
RJ Lewis (PMN): Hmm. Yeah. And a couple of those, you know, the cutting costs for the administration, the scaling R&D, you have the wind at your back, because there’s a lot of the AI technology and the IoT technology that is all helping to escalate those things and make them go faster. Kevin MD does a great graph on the great chart on exactly what you talked about that 10 to one growth of administrators over frontline healthcare providers. He actually charts out the growth of physicians versus the growth of administrators and it’s a shocking differential in terms of all the jobs that have been created in the administrative side. Yeah, that’s strong. The it’s interesting because it makes trust all that much more important. You mentioned the confidentiality, aspect, privacy, pharma, generally, despite all the good work that they do, and the creation of life-saving medications, because of their failure to communicate with the populace, because of they feel that their hands are tied in so many instances to do so. They actually score pretty poorly on the trust category. They’re above big tobacco, but I think they’re below banks, in terms of public perception. So that makes that an even more important issue to making sure that trust is restored, and people have the confidence and the faith in them as well as the healthcare provider.
Rishad Tobaccowala (Publicis): Yes, in fact, there is one word that I would say is the most important thing which is both why this is both going to be extremely important and why I think the pharmaceutical and health care and hospital industry will lead is trust is what has broken down across America, the world.
RJ Lewis (PMN): Hmm. Yeah. Yeah, that’s great. Why do you think that is? Why has you’d like to look at kind of the broad trends like globalization, demographic shifts, digitization and think about how they affect the marketer, drilling into the trust issue. Why do you think it is that trust is breaking down?
Rishad Tobaccowala (Publicis): So trust is breaking down because of a couple, couple of things. Three things really the first one is, what has basically happened is while there are lots of amazing benefits to social media, and we will discuss, like, you know, the importance of Twitter in generating traffic on Facebook and connecting people on LinkedIn and finding a job or whatever it is some of them can also be weaponized in ways that they will weaponize during the elections. They’ve been weaponized in India during India’s election, they’ve been weaponized in many ways. And what that does is allows you to close yourself into your own group of people, so you don’t get anything but confirming evidence. But the second is it allows everyone to basically post whatever they want. So, you know, when the Nancy Pelosi Video, which was clearly fooled around with was put on Facebook, Facebook said, well, we have no rules that anything on our platform has to be true or not. And so imagine if you woke up every morning, 2015, years ago, and television networks and the radio companies and newspapers basically said we don’t care whether it’s true or not. Okay? And these companies claim that they’re not media companies, but 70 to 80 percent of the media most people consume comes from them. So if you don’t know what’s fake or what isn’t fake, plus you have a President who says everything he doesn’t like is fake. You’re in a closed bubble. So people believe that the game is rigged. You have a President who claims that the game is rigged. And so you have this entire thing, which is an ecosystem where everyone says you can’t trust anyone, a media platforms increasingly that we leverage, which basically say, we don’t know whether it’s true or not. And then you’re living in a closed-minded group, where the information that algorithms show you is basically what once what feeds you to believe that what you are looking at is correct. So you know, whether it’s the making of a terrorist or making of a right-wing fanatic, a lot of the happen, by the way, because of algorithms that were originally targeted to make advertising work.
RJ Lewis (PMN): Yeah, tool used for the wrong end.
Rishad Tobaccowala (Publicis): Yes. And so I’ve always basically told these companies, Hey, listen, if your tool works, it works for everything for good and bad. Don’t tell us that it doesn’t work for good or bad. And it only works for good. And that’s why they’ve been become a little greedy. They’ve kind of lost the track and I have a feeling that some of them are going to basically be broken up and some may even go to jail.
RJ Lewis (PMN): That may happen. Rishad, I want to take one moment to hear a word from our sponsor, and then I want to come back and I want to continue on this topic of trust, but bring it a little closer to home and how it’s impacting the media world and the agency-client relationship as well. So we’ll be right back with Rishad.
Sponsor: This episode of the Pharma Marketing Podcast is brought to you by Tap Native, the largest native ad platform and content recommendation engine exclusively focused on health medicine and wellness. More at tapnative.com
RJ Lewis (PMN): Okay, we are back with Rishad Tobaccowala as the Chief Growth Officer at Publicis. And Rishad, I was I want to ask you a question about this breakdown of trust because there’s been kind of a wave that that’s hit our industry as well from an agency client perspective. Starting a few years ago, when the ANA released the Media Transparency Report, it feels like the trust between agency and client has been harmed as well, in recent years, and it looks like a lot of the holding companies are kind of challenged or in the midst of facing their own sort of disruption. And I know Publicis you don’t even call yourself a holding company anymore, right? You’re referring to yourself as a platform. Tell me a little bit about the thinking that’s happening at Publicis and how you’re adapting to kind of this new world order?
Rishad Tobaccowala (Publicis): Sure. So I think there are three big things when it comes down to trust. The first one is, you know, the ANA basically made a blanket statement, and the issue simply was they made a blanket statement that says, every agency, it cannot be trusted, which I think is completely and totally wrong. It’s like basically me saying, everybody in pharmaceuticals cannot be trusted. That’s pretty ridiculous. Right?
RJ Lewis (PMN): Right.
Rishad Tobaccowala (Publicis): We were audited 40 plus times by our clients because of the ANA and we passed all 40 times, so I don’t exactly know what people were talking about.
RJ Lewis (PMN): Congratulations!
Rishad Tobaccowala (Publicis): Thank you. So the first is this whole idea of basically making blanket statements is pretty stupid. And I think the ANA is disgraceful for having done that. Okay, which is, which is number one, they should have basically, if there’s an issue name names, you just don’t call everybody like nobody does that. The second, but obviously we have to have our clients trust because, without client’s trust, we can’t go anywhere. So trust is an important issue. But there are two other parts of trust, which is okay. Are we like misleading you? Well, I could tell you that we are Publicis are not misleading. And I will not basically cast aspersions on anybody because I haven’t seen too many people who have been found out in this particular world. The second, which I think is a more important form of trust, is can you trust your agencies to take you into the future? Right? Do they have the right skill sets? Do they understand what’s going on? Do they have? Are they on your side? Those are the important things that we’re trying to earn. You know, the whole idea of the first one, we can pass through an audit, we don’t like being called what we are called. But we can pass that through an audit. we’re more concerned about, hey, listen, how do we remain relevant to our clients? How do we make sure that their businesses succeed? How do we make sure we have the right skill set to keep them going, this is a second trust and I’ll tell you a little bit about that. And the third trust basically is this which is only take you the future is, can we basically be a place where people want to come and spend their careers and we can attract talent, so can talent, trust us with their careers? You know, my whole basic belief is you should be as concerned about is your agency able to take you to the future and do they have world-class talent? And frankly, if you basically call all of them liars, it doesn’t exactly help them one second and third. Okay. So the whole idea is let’s decide what fight we’re gonna pick as a fight basically, is about the future, the fight is about talent, the fight isn’t basically about your ability and like, you know which money went where because you can be thrown into jail if you mislead clients, which is stupid. We don’t do that. So, the reality of it is I think it was a crisis of leadership. And I’ve always said like I said in the book, we don’t care. Now, let us frenemies, I said that ANA report was basically an act of mass suicide, it basically told the CFOs and the CEOs of applied companies that their CMOS don’t know what they’re doing. Right? And as a result, no power has actually gone to CMOS because of that power. It’s been taken away, broadly. So the whole idea is, let’s talk about reality. And that’s why I get excited about that. Now, the key thing, what is reality is our clients, their real struggle, and our clients actually like us and our clients. Basically, the real struggle is for them to grow, for them to remain relevant with customers and people and to make sure that they have the right capabilities in the world that we’re going forward into. So we thought that that’s the trust we have earned, If we don’t have that trust, and we don’t keep that trust where we’re in trouble. And we have basically done three things, it’s a five-year program still hasn’t worked out. Broadly, it has worked out in specifics, but broadly, we aren’t growing yet where we’re supposed to be growing. But what we’ve done is five years ago, we decided we’re going to go from being a marketing, sort of advertising operation, a marketing communication company to a marketing transformation, and business transformation company. So marketing transformation company, is you have to change the way you even think about marketing in order to engage people today. But business transformation is just engaging people won’t be good enough, you got to change the way you create your products and services. Right. And so we first said, Okay, that’s our strategy, then do we have the capabilities and assuming that the Epsilon deal closes in the last five years. We basically have invested, you know, somewhere in the vicinity of $9 billion in M&A with companies like Sapient and Epsilon and this 9 billion doesn’t include that some stuff that occurred before those five years with Razorfish digital asset, a whole bunch of other companies. So we basically brought in new skill sets, we brought in new capabilities, we brought in new things, so that we could actually say we’re in the marketing transformation and business transformation business. That’s the first change we made. The second change we basically made is we decided that what we really needed to do was de-emphasize, our brands are still important, or each of the brands that we have, you know, whether it’s a digitas brand, you know whether it is Sachi or Zenith whatever. The key is, basically, those brands are extremely important for cultures, for attracting talent, for skill set development, but what clients want basically is the focus should be on them. And the other is they want no duplication and they want seamlessness, no friction, and so we emphasize countries and clients rather than brands and individual. So, if you’re in the United Kingdom, the United Kingdom, senior leadership is incentivized on how the United Kingdom does. And the Senior Management on any particular piece of business is on how that client does not on how individual brands do. So, we changed our organization system, our leadership, our incentive systems. That’s all something that we basically, that’s the second part. So obviously for this, the first is you do, we’ve got the M&A bringing the new skill sets set up a new thing. And the third one is we’re utilizing technology to become what we call a platform company. The idea being a platform company of which Marcel, which is one of the early indicators of what we’re doing, is to recognize that our talent that we work for our talent, our talent doesn’t work for us. And to that extent, how do we find a way for talent to basically get the right opportunities, talent to get the right information, talent to connect with each other, and talent to basically find ways to utilize technology to eliminate some of the things that they don’t like doing like time cards, you know, other kinds of stuff. So, the idea basically being as a platform, we bring in capabilities for our clients and allows our talented gather out the client particular sort of model. So we have done these changes and those are much more important, frankly than passing an audit. Okay, if to pass the audit because we, we have to, but what’s much more important is do we have the right skill sets, do we have the right talent? Do we have the right models to help our clients within the future? It’s been a five-year journey we think we’re getting there. The new stuff that we are doing is growing, you know, 20 30% a year, but our legacy stuff is still, you know, declining. So overall, we basically are plus or minus 1%, which is no good. We’ll get there hopefully.
RJ Lewis (PMN): Wow, that sounds it sounds like you’ve been working on a lot of almost retooling for the future. And emerging as a new company and correct me if I’m wrong, but kind of what I’m hearing is your, you know, the ANA report, whether it was you know, somebody yelling fire in a crowded theater when there was nothing happening, or whether there were some a couple of bad actors, it almost doesn’t matter. It’s kind of like our current political environment. If somebody tweets, something that kind of becomes the new reality that and everybody’s left facing the consequences. So you still have to adjust.
Rishad Tobaccowala (Publicis): Yeah, you have to adjust. So we’ve adjusted but that, but that if we just passed all these audits that would not take us into the future. Right?
RJ Lewis (PMN): Right. Right.
Rishad Tobaccowala (Publicis): The reality of it is obviously clients have to trust us with their money they bought, because that would be like sacrosanct. But just because they trust us with the money doesn’t necessarily mean they can trust us with their future. And just because, you know, our clients trust us with the future, and they trust us with our money. We also have to figure out how we make sure we bring in the right talent sets, the right organizational set. So that’s what we’re doing.
RJ Lewis (PMN): And it sounds like you know, while part of agency disruption are the large consultancies grabbing the ear of the CEO or the CFO while the CMO was losing some power in the organization. And that kind of gave them a deeper entree point, if you will, to kind of move downstream. It sounds like you’re taking the fight to them and saying, “Hey, we’re going to be leaders in business transformation as well, not just marketing transformation. So we’re going after the same space that they are,” is that accurate?
Rishad Tobaccowala (Publicis): It is. Here is what basically happens if you look at the space of marketing communication broadly, globally, it’s about a $500 billion market. If you look at basically where marketing strategy, I mean, creativity/ marketing strategy and technology intersect just where they intersect, right? Globally, that’s a $1.6 trillion market, which is three times the size of the market. It’s the reason is three times it’s such a huge market and it’s a growing market is a reason why very smart companies like Accenture and Deloitte and McKinsey and a whole bunch of other people are entering that. They’re not selling people. These are really smart people. I know them, right. They’re really smart. They’re very, very smart, very good. But they’re entering it because they see it’s a growth area. And so they’re adding capabilities that are areas You know whether it is in the creative area or other areas. So we’re adding capabilities in their areas like through Sapient. We’re also adding capabilities that they don’t have things like an Epsilon. We also have the ability to say, Hey, we’re innately creative as well as we have these big media practices, because the world isn’t gonna 100% algorithmic buy for quite some time because the world keeps changing. And the other is, is not necessarily digital. It’s Omnichannel. And Omnichannel also means the real world versus just the digital world. And so basically, we are saying we will take our share of this growing market, we see the market and we will take a growing we will take our share of this growing market. And I’m anticipating over time, people will basically see companies like us and I’m not saying we’re the only ones because we have many companies, including our competitors working out that that we actually are very interesting and important companies for the future. But right now in the short term people basically have decided that the companies that we are normally benchmarked against including ourselves, you know, the Omnicom’s, WPPs, IPGs, Denso, HS and ourselves are sort of, you know, dinosaur icon and my stuff is we’re not we’re cockroaches, we’re going to come back, we scare you around. And but we’ll see. But right now, we have to prove it because we haven’t proven enough.
RJ Lewis (PMN): Yeah. Well, you know, one thing agencies have always done exceptionally well. And I think still do is the culture it’s a it’s a magnetic, energetic, creative, fun culture for attracting talent. And it sounds like that could be a really a core competitive advantage. And you mentioned Marcel, and, and what that is, and I don’t know that everyone’s aware of that. I mean, that that’s a that’s an AI-driven platform, designed to help all of the Publicis family, all of the staff, right? You want to talk a little bit about what that is and how that differentiates you?
Rishad Tobaccowala (Publicis): Yeah, sure, people can either find a post on it. So when we posted on it on LinkedIn, so people can go look at my LinkedIn profile. Or they can just google Marcel and besides some crazy jokes, which are fun to read about it, you’ll also hear about what it is. But it’s basically think about it as a way for talent to basically access opportunities, talent to access information, talent to access each other, and talent to basically make the day to day life easy. It is already operating in countries like the United Kingdom. We’re anticipating it’ll roll out throughout the United States, you know, by the end of this year, if not before. And we’ve put a lot of money, a lot of effort we have besides a lot of our internal teams as well as the smart people at Sapient and other places. We have partnered with companies like Microsoft to help pulled it together. So we are eating our own dog food. That’s what I’d say. And hopefully, it tastes good.
RJ Lewis (PMN): That’s excellent. So, last thing I wanted to ask you about you have a book coming out restoring the soul of business. Now, tell me about when your books coming out and what are you covering in the book?
Rishad Tobaccowala (Publicis): Sure. So thank you for asking. So my book is coming out on January 28, 2020. But for read for, you know, listeners of this, who don’t think I’m demented. You know, you can go to wherever you buy books online, let’s say Amazon, and put in my name, and you can pre-order the book. So I’ve had the books available for pre-order, even though it isn’t coming up in January. So please do pre-order the book though. What it is, is it’s about 10 or 12 questions that I was asked for the last five years. everywhere where to the world that people were struggling with. Like, for instance, why is there so much math and so little meaning? Right? We’ve got all this data, but we don’t seem to be getting any wisdom extraction of meaning. So I have a chapter called, How do you do that? It’s just too much math too little meaning. Another one is simple as how do you basically tell shoot to power? which I call the turret on the table? Right? How do we prevent the Wells Fargo’s, the Boeing’s, etc? But it was very clear that something was wrong, but people didn’t speak up or the bosses did not create an environment for people to speak up. We talked about creativity, but we always are being presented to in PowerPoint. So I have a chapter called unleashing creativity by putting poetry into the PowerPoint and the other one is how do you be a good boss? So that or how do you manage bad bosses? which is sort of leading with 37 years of experience across the world, plus a lot of research plus lots of stuff I read and studied so just as in my stories, Some things that I’ve seen. So I’ve read and I’ve investigated and I spent a year, I took half time off from my job, and I spent a year writing the book with, but I’ve got a great editor. It’s HarperCollins publishing it, and it will come out and early research and indications. And feedback is amazingly positive. So hopefully I would have a career as a writer one day.
RJ Lewis (PMN): That’s terrific. Well, I definitely look forward to reading that one. And I will go to Amazon and preorder myself.
Rishad Tobaccowala (Publicis): Absolutely.
RJ Lewis (PMN): Rishad, thank you so much for your time. You’ve been incredibly generous. Before, we go, is there anything I didn’t ask you that I should have?
Rishad Tobaccowala (Publicis): I know, I think the two things that, not two things that, the two-piece of advice I would give people is this, which is random advice, which is all of us, increasingly, are going to be terrific but we have to invest time and effort. So I spend an hour and a half every day learning new things and I’m not suggesting people spent an hour and a half every day I’m slow, but they should spend a few hours a week learning new things. And when I learn things, I share stuff and so talking about Twitter I’m on @Rishad, so you can hear what I share. But I would say please, you know, both a, learn new things. And then the second one is, the future is extremely bright. Do not let current noise tell you differently. Every 5 10 years, we’re much more ahead of where we were in the past broadly as a society.
RJ Lewis (PMN): And on that very positive note, I want to thank you for your time today. It was great having you as a guest on our podcast.
Rishad Tobaccowala (Publicis): Thank you very much.
Listen to this podcast, Ep. 004 – Rishad Tobaccowala here: https://www.pharma-mkting.com/the-pharma-marketing-podcast/