Publicis launches innovation facility called Drugstore in India

Drugstore India will offer innovation in the product, process and services space


Photo: Bloomberg
Photo: Bloomberg

New Delhi: Personalised nutritional advice is a boon for new mothers. This is precisely what Swiss multinational corporation Nestlé did by launching a dairy management app for new moms under its ‘The First 1000 Days Nutrition Program’. The app provides scientific nutrition advice and helps mothers keep track of their baby’s growth in the first 1,000 days. Along with nutritional information, Nestlé also promotes some of its products through the app. The app was created by Spain-based food-tech start-up accelerator DigEatAll (http://digeatall.com/) under Publicis Groupe-owned innovation facility called Drugstore in London.

While Nestlé reached out to its consumer base at a personal level, the food-tech start-up got a chance to work with one of the biggest global FMCG companies.

Brands in India can also look at replicating such innovations as the French advertising conglomerate Publicis has launched its global innovation facility in the country. Drugstore India will offer innovation in the product, process and services space. Based out of Publicis’s Mumbai office, the facility will foster relationships between large companies and early-stage tech start-ups. Publicis Groupe in India has advertising agencies such as Leo Burnett, Publicis India, L&K | Saatchi & Saatchi, digital agency Razorfish and public relations agency MSL Group under its umbrella.

Although the advertising group declined to divulge the investment in Drugstore India, it shared the names of people who will lead the new innovation facility.

The Drugstore India team will be led by Anil K. Nair, chief executive officer, Digital L&K | Saatchi & Saatchi. The core team comprises Sreeraman Thiagarajan (Publicis), Parth Nagar and Aarti Samant (L&K Saatchi & Saatchi), Sanju Menon (Leo Burnett), Swapnil Puranik (Razorfish) and Suryasen Kundu (MSL Group). Praveen Kenneth, chairman and managing director, L&K Saatchi & Saatchi, will be its mentor. The facility will provide its services to Publicis Groupe companies such as L&K | Saatchi & Saatchi, Publicis India, Leo-Burnett and Razorfish.

“The idea of this facility is to merge the innovation which start-ups have with the scale that large multi-nationals like a Unilever or a P&G have to offer. These companies are so set in their ways that they may be doing innovation but it can never match the pace of a start-up. We have access to both these parties and could play a role of a mediator bringing them together. It gives start-ups networking, contacts and experience in brand building and big companies technology-driven solutions giving them an edge over competitors,” explained Nair.

Drugstore, started by Publicis Groupe founder Marcel Bleustein-Blanchet, already operates in London, Sydney, Johannesburg and Zurich. In London, it has a co-working space at The Trampery Old Street, in Sydney it is an incubator, while in Johannesburg it is known for its larger social projects.

“In India, we don’t know what form it will take. Currently, it will work on a project basis. We will have partners from the start-up space—they could be venture capitalists, co-working spaces or accelerators,” said Nair, adding that they currently have Zone Startups as partners and are in talks with technology industry leaders such as Adobe and Google.

A standard process that Drugstore India will follow is to speak to the clients and help identify a problem. Then, using the Drugstore network, identify the right start-up for the client through a series of programmes. It could be a short-term engagement programme like Meet the Makers where a category of start-ups is introduced to a particular category of large companies. Some of the other innovation programmes of Drugstore India include Minibar, Demo Days, Supper Club, Rapid Prototyping and Incubator Accelerator to capitalize on inventions and have radical outcomes in the process, products and services.

The initial target is to involve the agency’s top 30 clients across categories to get some form of Drugstore intervention. In India, Publicis Group has clients such as Ambuja Cement, MakeMyTrip, Apollo Tyres, HDFC Mutual Fund, Tata Housing, Renault, Idea Cellular, Hero MotoCorp, Head & Shoulders, Pantene and Pidilite, across its portfolio agencies.

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