This month in the “CEO Spotlight”, we welcome Julien Marcel, VP of PRN International and Chairman and CEO of Screenvision Europe, the leading cinema advertising company in Europe.
- You have recently been appointed as Chairman and CEO of Screenvision Europe, the leading cinema advertising sales house in Europe, what can you tell us about this new challenge for you in the out-of-home industry?
The Screenvision story started for me five years ago when I first joined them. It was there that I first discovered the out-of-home media industry and I am now very excited to be back, in order to bring this business to the next stage. I will implement the successful formula I discovered with PRN – think like the viewer (the shopper, the cinemagoer), seek every opportunity to bring value to the core business of the estate owner (the retailer, the exhibitor) and help the advertisers make their message relevant in the place where it is delivered (the store, the cinema). That is quite a challenge!
- PRN are well known in the US but perhaps less so in Europe so can you start off by telling us a little bit about PRN and a little bit about yourself?
For nearly 15 years, PRN has been the US leader in the in-store tv business, working with market leaders such as Wal-Mart, Best Buy, CostCo, Circuit City, Albertsons, etc. My path crossed PRN’s back in 2005 when Thomson acquired PRN. I was the Thomson CEO’s Chief of Staff and he gave me the task to kick-off PRN’s international expansion. That’s how it started for me. Since then, the US leader in in-store tv has become a world leader with activities on numerous continents.
- You are doing some work with Carrefour in Poland, what can you tell us about the project and your ambitions here?
For just over a year we have been working day after day to fine tune the formula that works in a new and challenging environment such as Carrefour, Poland, The fact that we have been able to build a relationship with leading advertisers such as Danone in the country is a good indication of the progress made so far. The next step for us is to extend our footprint and reinforce our local partnerships. We are working on it! And, as usual, you will probably be the first to know about it once it is done.
- Can you tell us a little bit more about plans you have for networks worldwide at the moment?
Beside Poland, Brazil has taken a lot of our attention over the past year. We have a strong relationship with Carrefour as well in this country. We also have a strong media and sales partner with GloboSat. We are very bullish on Latin America and you should expect major progress out there shortly.
In Western Europe, France and UK are high on our agenda. We are very proud of the content and programming support we are bring to the French post-office tv network, probably one of the largest digital out-of-home networks in Europe.
- Your tag line / mantra is “world leader in retail TV networks” – is that a statement of intent or do you really see yourself as a world leader?
Given our position in Europe (Western and Eastern) and America (North and South) and our relationship with leading US and European retailers, I don’t think the world leader statement is over the top!
- Neo Advertising are perhaps the only other legitimate global player, what’s your strategy for growth and do you see being global / pan-geographic as being important?
There are several companies with big ambitions in our (fiercely competitive) environment. I am not sure that many of them manage several hundreds of thousand screens, reach 300 million viewers every month and have advertising revenue in excess of €100million.
Our global approach is based on the development of strong local roots everywhere we go – the good old ‘think global, act local’ recipe
- Three years down the road – since the Thomson acquisition of PRN, can you tell us whether PRN has met Thomson’s objectives?
The PRN acquisition has been instrumental in Thomson’s repositioning along the digital media chain. It has been a tremendous learning experience for Thomson in terms of digital distribution technology as well as in terms of media experience – getting closer to the advertising industry.
- Do you think that Thomson will divest PRN over the mid short run?
That’s certainly not on the agenda right now. What is on our agenda is to grow the PRN business internationally, support the business objectives of our customers and continue to drive innovation. We also want to work within the industry to develop standards and practices that drive broader adoption and integration of these solutions
- Surely there are other companies that are much stronger in Europe than you at present, do you think that PRN has met or will meet its expectations in the European market?
What we have learnt from 15 years of presence in the US is that sustainable success and profitable growth take time. We build our presence step by step and we are pretty excited with the progress achieved so far in France and in Poland.
- PRN seem to have pretty much kept themselves to themselves over the last couple of years and you are well known for having your own technology, have you or will you choose / standardise on any technology partners going forward?
Let me answer that another way. PRN has built a standards based open IPTV retail platform that we believe is second to none. It is designed to scale from a single channel to dozens of channels in the retail environment. While there will be a continued move to use our own technology throughout the world, we are going to partner with any technology or company that expands the capability of the platform. Our first example was announced last month, an integration and strategic partnership with Cabco, one of the leading media on shopping cart suppliers. Much more to come on this front soon