A Dummy's Guide to Sapient and SapientNitro

By Ashwini Gangal , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Digital | November 10, 2014
Everything you wanted to know about Sapient. And Nitro. And Sapient Nitro. And everything in-between.

What exactly is SapientNitro? An informal, loosely conducted industry dipstick threw up descriptors like 'that place Pops joined recently', 'digital agency', 'technology company', 'viral firm', 'social media network', 'app developer', 'digital technology company', and 'nitrogen generating machinery manufacturer'. Okay, we made up that last one.

The media's definitions for the company are equally diverse, albeit not entirely off the mark at all times. Sample these: Sapient is an 'internet services consultancy' (Encyclopedia of E-commerce), a 'digital marketing firm' (Wall Street Journal) and a 'web design and infrastructure business' (Adweek).

Sapient at a glance

Client List - SapientNitro and Sapient Government Services

As far as the Indian ad-media industry goes, Leo Burnett's erstwhile creative head KV Sridhar pretty much put SapientNitro on the map when he joined the place as chief creative officer recently. But a lot of busy folk out there still wonder what exactly SapientNitro is.

Our readers' interest in the company waxes and wanes depending on whether it is in the news. At present, interest is high, because few days back global ad-media network Publicis Groupe acquired Sapient for a whopping $3.7 billion.

On the occasion, we bring you a quick guide to Sapient.

First things first. What exactly is Sapient?

Sapient defines itself as "a global technology services company that helps clients transform in the areas of marketing, multi-channel commerce and consulting."

The company "combines insight, strategy, creativity and technology to drive innovation and help clients create business opportunities in a highly transformational environment."

Sapient was founded in 1990 by Jerry Greenberg and Stuart Moore, and is headquartered in Boston.

Who are these clients?

These clients comprise companies that belong to the following industries: financial services, retail, technology, communications, consumer packaged goods, travel and leisure, automotive, energy services, and government, health and education.

Brands include the likes of Audi, Coca-Cola, Unilever, Chrysler, Citi, The Coca-Cola Company, Lufthansa, Target, Vodafone, Fiat and Marks & Spencer, among others (see image).

Okay, but what is Sapient Nitro, then?

Sapient Nitro is a part of Sapient. Specifically, Sapient services its clients through three divisions, namely, SapientNitro, Sapient Global Markets and Sapient Government Services.

In 2009, Sapient acquired Nitro Group, a New York-based independent advertising agency. That's when SapientNitro was born.

At the time, the acquisition was a much talked about one and marked Sapient's foray into the mainstream, ATL (above-the-line) ad agency space. Reportedly, Sapient paid $50 million (a combination of cash and stock) to acquire Nitro Group.

Recipient of 200 creative awards, SapientNitro was named Creative Agency of the Year by MediaPost's OMMA Magazine last year.

What exactly does SapientNitro do?

SapientNitro defines itself as: "A new breed of agency redefining storytelling for an always-on world. We're changing the way our clients engage today's connected consumers by uniquely creating integrated, immersive stories across brand communications, digital engagement, and omni-channel commerce. We call it Storyscaping, where art and imagination meet the power and scale of systems thinking. SapientNitro's unique combination of creative, brand and technology expertise, results in one global team collaborating across disciplines, perspectives and continents."

How large is Sapient, globally and in India?

Sapient has 37 offices worldwide, across The Americas, Europe and Asia-Pacific. In India, the company has offices in Bengaluru, Noida and Gurgaon.

Sapient generated $1.356 billion in revenue for the year ended June 30, 2014.

The company employs around 13,000 people worldwide including 8,500 people in India.

In April 1996, Sapient completed its initial public offering (IPO). Sapient (NASDAQ: SAPE), is a registered service mark of Sapient Corporation.

Who runs SapientNitro in India?

At present, Andy Greenaway, executive creative director of SapientNitro runs operations for the APAC region. Rajdeep Endow is managing director of SapientNitro India. Christian Oversohl is senior vice president and managing director of SapientNitro, APAC.

Globally, Sapient's leadership team has an average tenure of 15 years.

How does Pops define SapientNitro?

When afaqs! wrote about KV Sridhar's move from Leo Burnett to SapientNitro, the report called the latter "an interactive marketing, creative design and technology services agency."

Pops told us at the time, "I have not joined a technology company. I have not joined a digital agency. I have joined a future-facing, new-breed, storytelling agency that understands how to use technology to create platforms, build brands and talk to the 'always on' consumer. I like SapientNitro because their mission is not to create ads but to create 'worlds' for the consumer. Marketers think differently about brand-consumer engagement today and recognise the critical need for strategy, creative and technology to blend together."

Hiring Pops was indicative of SapientNitro's aggressive, newfound India strategy. In an interview following his move to SapientNitro, Pops had said: "SapientNitro in India caters to a lot of global clients. It has not concentrated on the domestic market. Now the focus has shifted. This is an attempt to aggressively launch itself in this market and focus on Indian work for Indian clients and global clients that have an India presence."

In the words of Maurice Lévy, chairman and CEO, Publicis Groupe, the recently assigned parent of Sapient, "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."

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