Publicis Merges Digital Shops SapientNitro and Razorfish, Creating SapientRazorfish

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SapientNitro CEO Alan Wexler was named to lead the newly formed SapientRazorfish.
SapientNitro CEO Alan Wexler was named to lead the newly formed SapientRazorfish. Credit: Publicis Groupe.

Publicis Groupe's Publicis.Sapient has merged the digital agencies SapientNitro and Razorfish to create the new global entity SapientRazorfish.

SapitentNitro CEO Alan Wexler will lead SapientRazorfish as its new chief executive, while Shannon Denton, currently CEO at Razorfish, shifts to the role of chief strategy officer for SapientRazorfish and head of global practices for Publicis.Sapient. Mr. Wexler will also become co-CEO of Publicis.Sapient, along with Chip Register, who will remain in his position of CEO of Sapient Consulting. Mr. Register and Mr. Wexler will also oversee an integrated management team for Publicis.Sapient in North America, and SapientNitro's Global Chief Strategy Officer and EMEA CEO of SapientRazorfish Nigel Vaz will have responsibility for the integrated management teams in Europe and Asia.

Alan Herrick will shift from CEO of Publicis.Sapient to chairman, while continuing to advise CEO clients and their boards on digital transformation strategies.

While management changes are effective immediately, the reorganization will be in full operation by Jan. 2. SapientRazorfish, which includes about 12,000 staffers worldwide, will operate under one P&L.

Bill Kanarick, chief strategy officer for Publicis.Sapient, which also houses DigitasLBI and Sapient Consulting, said the merger will allow SapientRazorfish to adapt to the shifting marketplace and deliver results for clients in a faster, more efficient way.

Publicis does not anticipate any layoffs with the merger, and while there may be some client conflicts, they "were less significant than you might imagine" and the agency has detailed plans in place to address them, Mr. Kanarick said.

The restructuring is part of Publicis Groupe's Power of One integrated approach, which has won recent accounts such as Comcast and USAA. Mr. Wexler said the merger reflects clients' need for everything to move faster and in a more integrated fashion, with digital and experience marketing at the heart of the business.

Mr. Kanarick said three factors played into the move: the changing nature of how people are living, the changing competitive landscapes with disruptors like Uber and Airbnb and the need for clients to change the way they do business in response to those things. "Think about SapientRazorfish as being able to imagine the future and delivering real change," he said. "You can't be successful for clients unless you understand them and unless you can fundamentally change the way they do business."

Sapient and Razorfish were brought together rather than DigitasLBI or Sapient Consulting because of the agencies' complementary capabilities in the experience, digital and technology space, said Mr. Kanarick. DigitasLBI, while a critical part of Publicis.Sapient, is more focused on data, analytics, media and CRM and Sapient Consulting works on consulting solutions for clients.

Digital now represents 54% of group revenue, on track for the group's target of 60% by 2018, according to the 2016 third quarter earnings report.

In September, Publicis introduced a new model for Publicis Communications in which each country will operate under a single P&L for its creative agencies. Publicis Communications had already made the move to a country-based P&L in more than 60% of its markets, which accounts for about 40% of total revenue. Tthe addition of North America and France will bring that up to 80%.

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