IT House Turns Creative: SapientNitro Becomes First Data's Agency Of Record


Get ready for more companies with roots in IT services and technology to drive the future of online marketing and advertisers. Here's the story of SapientNitro. The company announced Wednesday that it will become the agency of record (AOR) for First Data Corp., which processes payments and electronic commerce, supporting corporate identity, as well as creative, media and strategy for the Atlanta-based company. In partnership, the two companies will relaunch First Data's corporate brand identity "Beyond the Transaction" tagline and "Beyond" symbol. The companies will use the icons in campaigns.

It's important to note that First Data serves more than six million merchant locations, thousands of card issuers and millions of consumers worldwide including financial institutions, large-and-small businesses, and government agencies.



SapientNitro now accounts for 64% of Sapient's total worldwide revenue. About half of the revenue comes from commerce-related services, and the remainder from marketing. It wasn't always that way. The company, formed in 1991, is focused on business and technology. CMO Bill Kanarick explains how, as an IT house in the mid-90s, it built Wells Fargo's first online bank, and helped Bank of America transact business over the Internet.

As more companies began to outsource IT services overseas in 1999, Sapient also made the move, by launching a series of outsourcing IT services supported by employees in India. It wasn't until 2002 that Sapient introduced an interactive marketing division supporting multichannel marketing and commerce from computers to mobile devices.

The creative part of the biz came through acquisitions. "We look at acquisitions as a means to strategically augment the business, not grow bigger," Kanarick said. "An acquisition isn't just the injection of capabilities, but it also helps to reposition the brand. We're not a holding company that buys one company on Wednesday, Monday and the following Thursday."

The idea was not to remove competitors from the market, either. So what did Sapient do with the numerous acquisitions completed in the past 10 years that turned the company from an IT house into a creative agency?

Last year, SapientNitro announced that its Sapient Interactive and SapientNitro divisions would act as one brand in a strategy to support increased demand for multichannel marketing and commerce services. The division, co-led by Gaston Legorburu, former head of Sapient Interactive group, and Chris Clarke, founder and former head of Nitro Group (now SapientNitro), aimed to let clients tap into a full suite of offerings under one profit and loss (P&L) statement and culture.

And when it comes to the companies traditionally supporting back-end enterprise resource platforms that drive business transactions through the Internet, don't forget the recent push by Adobe, IBM, Oracle, and SAP to help agencies and creative services.


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