Q&A With Nigel Vaz, Senior Vice President & European Managing Director, SapientNitro

Luca Paderni

In less than one week, Forrester's Forum For Marketing Leaders (April 29-30) kicks off in London. In addition to industry thought leaders from the likes of adidas, BBC, Eurostar, and Royal Bank of Scotland, we will be hearing from Nigel Vaz, Senior Vice President & European Managing Director at SapientNitro. During the panel session, "The Future Of Agency and Brand Relationship," Nigel and fellow experts will be discussing the role of agencies in helping brands succeed in the age of the customer.

In the run-up to the forum, I caught up with Nigel to get his perspective on the key challenges and trends in the agency-brand relationship. Here's what he shared with me, and do join Nigel at the forum to get the full story.

Q: How do you see the age of the customer impacting your clients' businesses?

A: The emergence of a whole new consumer group with different behaviours, expectations, and requirements has been fascinating to watch. This group of digitally empowered consumers own multiple devices and are online frequently throughout the day from multiple physical locations. Essentially, the adoption and usage of technology is more advanced among these leading consumers than is the case at many companies which seek to serve them. They expect brands to meet them in those places and spaces at a time of their choosing and for the experience to be consistent, wherever the touchpoint may be.

Read more

Cannes Provides Backdrop For Latest WPP Digital Agency Acquisition

Jim Nail

Cannes this year is hosting more and more evidence of the disappearance of lines between “digital” and “advertising”: A mobile category was launched; the new Branded Content and Entertainment category includes subcategories such as “best use or integration of user generated content”; Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey was named Media Person of the Year and . . .

. . . WPP used the international advertising festival to announce it is acquiring digital agency AKQA and incorporating it as a separate network within WPP.

AKQA is a great pickup for WPP. It's not only one of the biggest indies left but one of the best at blending creative and technology skills in one organization — a mix that doesn’t always live together easily.

It also fills a hole for WPP. AKQA aspires to a category of agencies I call “brand transformers” that are about more than communications and look to leverage digital capabilities to help clients enter new adjacent product and service areas.

Very interesting that it will be a standalone brand and not folded into one of WPP’s existing networks. Digital agencies VML and Blast Radius bring similar capabilities but are locked in the Y&R network; WPP gains flexibility by having AKQA “at large” in its holdings. In addition, AKQA is a little too big to fold into another network easily, but will need to build heft quickly if it wants to remain separate. Otherwise, in a couple of years, WPP will merge it with other assets.

I think it’s likely Interpublic and Omnicom will react. WPP clearly sees digital as essential to its future. This acquisition definitely puts some distance between WPP and Omnicom, which had been pretty close, and Interpublic, which has a couple of strong assets but doesn’t have the strategic focus that WPP and Publicis do.

Read more