Data And Storytelling: The Bedrocks Behind Publicis' Purchase of Sapient

If Publicis Groupe were hoping for the agency equivalent of the moment you bump into an ex with a hot date on your arm, it really couldn't have done better than this week's Sapient purchase.

Not only has Maurice Levy ensured the jealous glare of Omnicom, to whom it had planned to get hitched earlier this year, but it might just stop the onlooker with plenty to say -- for that, read WPP's Sir Martin Sorrell -- from laughing on the sidelines and reminding all those who will listen that he'd told them so all along.

Well, I guess that didn't exactly happen because Sorrell has been widely quoted as accusing Publicis as acting like a 'jilted lover' and giving Sapient shareholders an early Christmas present with the circa £2bn price tag. However, it has at least moved the talk from what might have been to what is now actually happening.

And that's pretty clear. While the purchase price may seem high, Publicis has got itself a very well-respected digital agency and ensured that half its revenues now come from digital three years ahead of its self-imposed schedule.

Personally, I have no idea whether £2bn was too much, but I would say that of the independent agencies out there, Sapient was always likely to be heavily courted and eventually sold to a large group. That kind of interest will always pump up a purchase price.

My main takeaway is that Publicis has acquired an excellent agency that I rate very highly, for two reasons. And they're the bedrock of digital -- data and storytelling. 

This is pretty much what Sapient has been building its reputation on the past few years. It is world-renowned for its analytics capabilities -- which not only inform brands to whom they should be advertising, how and to what effect, but also help them predict trends and ensure they buy enough, say, black underpants compared to white, to keep up with consumer demand.

The storytelling is very interesting. The agency has been making a major play of not only having a story in campaigns but to forming an emotional connection with the viewer to make them a part of the story. A case in point was the VitaminWater 'makeboringbrilliant' campaigns which went viral on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. By asking people to come up with suggestions on how to make mundane tasks interesting, the brand put its audience centre stage on a topic that was very much "on message" for a flavoured water company.

So, whether the price tag was a little hefty or now will remain to be seen. What can most definitely be said is Publicis has truly put its best foot forward with the Sapient purchase and seriously upped its digital game in one fell swoop.

Next story loading loading..