Publicis Groupe Merges Global Digital Networks Sapient and Razorfish

SapientRazorfish combines assets

Publicis Groupe confirmed weeks of rumors today, announcing the merger of its SapientNitro and Razorfish networks to create a new global operation it's calling SapientRazorfish. The goal is to better meet clients' digital marketing needs within a single organization.

According to a statement from Publicis, the move, which had been in the works for months but still came as news to most of the two units' 10,000-plus employees around the world, creates a network "designed to better fuse the significant experience and technology capability across the two businesses in response to client needs for digital expertise at scale."

SapientRazorfish will be part of the Publicis.Sapient "solution hub," which also includes Sapient Consulting and all DigitasLBi operations. Publicis brand experience network Rosetta will continue to operate as a unit dedicated to the Samsung business.

"By creating SapientRazorfish and by implementing a more integrated management structure, we are combining the very best digital and technology assets in one combined unit," said newly promoted group chairman Alan Herrick. "SapientNitro and Razorfish have been clear market leaders since the invention of digital. To now bring them together builds on the great success we have seen in many recent collaborations with clients."

The announcement is also in keeping with the larger Publicis Groupe's "Power of One" approach, which focuses on consolidation as a selling point for clients eager to cut marketing expenses and streamline related partnerships.

In the abstract, Publicis hopes SapientRazorfish will leave the holding company better prepared to address the complementary challenges of change and speed in order to serve clients' increasingly digital needs.

There is also a series of leadership changes. Herrick, who had been president and CEO of the larger Publicis.Sapient umbrella group that formed earlier this year, will now be chairman of the new unit. Former Razorfish global CEO Shannon Denton was named global chief strategy officer of SapientRazorfish in addition to global practice lead at Publicis.Sapient.

Alan Wexler and Chip Register, who had been CEO of SapientNitro and Sapient Consulting, respectively, will now serve as co-CEOs of Publicis.Sapient. The two will also assume regional leadership of Publicis.Sapient in North America, while global chief strategy officer Nigel Vaz leads the European and Asian operations from his home base in London.

Publicis Groupe framed the announcement as a way to further what it believes to be an advantage over its rival holding companies in the digital sector. It also hopes to retain business by offering clients a more fully integrated resource for digital services.

"For the past 10 years, Publicis Groupe has been leading the way in reshaping our company to be more digital," said chairman and CEO Maurice Levy in a statement. "SapientRazorfish is a powerful new entity in the marketplace uniquely combining customer experience strategy, omnichannel commerce and technology deployment to create a new breed of digital transformation partner pointed at today's most critical client need—reshaping their businesses for the future. I am confident that Alan and Chip, together with the new Publicis.Sapient structure and management in place, will continue to drive digital revenue to our goal of 60 percent by 2018."

In a joint statement, Wexler and Register said, "We are excited to assume responsibility for leading Publicis.Sapient. Now we start this new chapter to further integrate in response to the increasing digital demands of our clients."