Hundreds of Publicis Groupe colleagues unite on 6th Annual Innovation Day to help social enterprises

Olivia introducing Innovation Day in NYC

By Olivia Sprinkel — Head of Salterbaxter MSL, North America

How can we get more people to volunteer to help reduce food waste? How can we raise awareness of our app that helps underserved populations, among stakeholder audiences that include government? These were just two of the challenges that we tackled on Innovation Day this year.

Innovation Day has long been a special day in the calendar for many at MSL as well as other Publicis agencies. Started six years ago by Salterbaxter MSL in London, it is now an international event with teams taking part in the U.K., New York, and with colleagues from across Europe attending the London event. It’s an opportunity for us to offer our skills and expertise to organizations in a unique way: it not only benefits them, it brings together top Publicis minds, deepening our continued push towards collaboration and integration.

This year twelve teams gathered to support twelve social enterprises in developing their communications and marketing approach. In support of Publicis Groupe’s participation in the Common Ground project, the theme for this year’s Innovation Day was food. Publicis Groupe has committed to supporting SDG2 (Sustainable Development Goals), working towards zero hunger and to help the raise awareness of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). In addition to Salterbaxter and MSL participants, we were joined by other Publicis Groupe colleagues from Sapient Razorfish and Saatchi & Saatchi. We were also joined by clients from the Ad Council and National Resources Defense Council.

New York teams worked with two different organizations in an effort to end hunger: Rescuing Leftover Cuisine that enables people to volunteer to bring leftover food from partner restaurants to local homeless shelters — simultaneously reducing food waste and feeding people in need and Fresh EBT, an app created by Propel which helps food stamp recipients make the most of their stipend and navigate the complexity of the system.

The NYC crew gathered at the 375 Hudson Street offices, welcoming two members from each social enterprise to join in the day. After an introduction, the two teams threw themselves into tackling the client briefs with great gusto and teamwork, quizzing the representatives of the organizations, gaining a greater understanding of the challenges and getting to work brainstorming.

In the middle of the day, we took some time out to enjoy lunch provided by another social enterprise, Eat Offbeat. Eat Offbeat employs refugees to make and deliver the food.

Then it was back to tackle the second half of the briefs and to refine our thinking further. At the end of the day, we all gathered back together to share our creative ideas. Both organizations finished buzzing with possible solutions in their approach to communications and engaging their different audiences.

Having taken part in three Innovation Days, I see the value not only to the social enterprises that we work with, but to Salterbaxter and our sister agencies. As an agency focused on sustainability and social purpose, it is important for us to walk the talk and give back. But the most important benefit for us is what our people get out of the day — it gives people an opportunity to step up and lead, use their skills in a different ways and work with colleagues from across the group, as well as learn from the entrepreneurs. And it also helps foster a sense of pride in the company and the difference that we make.

Kristina Joss, senior consultant at Salterbaxter, who facilitated the Rescuing Leftover Cuisine (RLC) team, said, “It was my first Innovation Day and I was blown away by how easily everyone went all in to work together. We had such great expertise in the team from across the different agencies and the feedback from the RLC team was overwhelmingly positive. Robert [Founder of RLC] was so impressed by the communications strategy that we developed and he is looking forward to putting it into action. And it was so inspiring for us all to work with the RLC team and feel invested in their aspirations for tackling food waste and hunger.”

Thank you to Blue Ridge Labs @ Robin Hood, a social impact incubator based in Brooklyn, for connecting us with these two amazing organizations. We look forward to seeing the impact that these ideas have for these businesses. Hopefully these ideas will help them make an even bigger difference for the communities they serve. And we are already looking forward to making Innovation Day even bigger and better next year!