Publicis Acquires Sapient for $3.7B, Vows Digital Dominance

3 minute read
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Publicis Groupe acquired fellow global digital agency Sapient for $3.7 billion today.

To put that into perspective, it's more than Oracle's acquisitions of Responsys and Eloqua — and more than Salesforce's purchase of ExactTarget

Publicis means business in the digital age. And the Paris-based global digital agency wants to take on the US and others by scooping up the Boston-based digital marketing specialist. It creates an $8 billion-per-year revenue powerhouse that will live off a new platform, "Publicis.Sapient," which will focus on "digital transformation and the dynamics of an always-on world across marketing, omni-channel commerce, consulting and technology."

“Sapient is a ‘crown jewel,’ a one of a kind company born in the technology space with strengths in marketing, communications, consulting and omni-channel commerce, all of which are equally important to best help clients achieve their digital transformation," Maurice Lévy, chairman and CEO of Publicis Groupe, said in a statement.

Sound Familiar?

Lévy added that the deal will help Publicis Groupe's goal of deriving 50 percent of its revenues from digital and technology three years ahead of its 2018 plan. 

It's a similar tune, isn't it? Every big company in marketing wants a piece of "digital" and "technology," and they are building out its capabilities in order to do so.

Publicis Groupe, founded in 1926, competes globally with the other big fishes in global advertising -- WPP, Interpublic and Omnicom. Publicis and Omnicom planned a merger in 2013, but the deal was called off this past May. 

Learning Opportunities

Alan J. Herrick, president, CEO and co-chairman of 24-year-old Sapient, said the Publicis partnership "accelerates the level of transformation we can drive into the marketplace.”

Sapient operates three divisions -- SapientNitro, Sapient Global Markets and Sapient Government Services. It posted about $1.3 billion in revenue for the prior 12 months before June 30.

Publicis brings DigitasLBi, Razorfish Global and Rosetta to the table. Herrick will lead the new division created by the merger. 

Levy said with Sapient and prior acquisitions like Digitas, Razorfish, Rosetta, LBi and Nurun, "we laid the first stones of a new marketing and communications era, one that would echo and engage empowered consumers from the New Age. Sapient is an integral part of our transformation, with its unique combination of marketing, omni-channel commerce and consulting and its depth of technology.”

Just two months ago, Publicis Groupe and Adobe released Publicis Groupe Always-On Platform -- “the first end-to-end marketing management platform … that automates and connects all components of a client’s marketing efforts.” 

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