SapientNitro European MD Nigel Vaz: ‘Industry segments are starting to collapse and move very fluidly’ | M&M Global

SapientNitro European MD Nigel Vaz: ‘Industry segments are starting to collapse and move very fluidly’

SapientNitro European managing director Nigel Vaz tells M&M Global’s Jeremy King about the agency’s acquisition by Publicis Groupe and how for clients digital is no mere marketing adjunct but a potentially game-changing aspect of their business.

SapientNitro interview

Digital agency SapientNitro officially became part of Publicis Groupe in February this year, with its name now prominent in the holding group’s digital offering. The new Publicis.Sapient family houses SapientNitro, Sapient’s consulting business, DigitasLBi, Razorfish Global and Rosetta, and creates what Vaz describes as the “world’s largest digital platform”.

“There’s a lot of connections in terms of capability, strategy, where we can collaborate to deliver more for clients,” he tells M&M Global. “And I think our historical orientation of connecting everything from brand communications through to digital transformation and commerce is proving very useful for facilitating all the connections across the range of Publicis clients.”

Here’s the interview in full:

For clients, Vaz insists that SapientNitro’s “the brand is the experience, the experience is the brand” mantra is a powerful one.

“Not only is the brand message important,” he adds “But how that brand message is delivered though every single channel – it’s starting to become more and more critical.

“So if you’re an airline, you need to decide that your mobile experience and the journey of people navigating through your terminals is as important as the inflight experience because those two things are the same part of the same journey.”

Vaz is emphatic that the customer journey is as important as the end product.

“Now the consumer journey – the power that a consumer has where they own the relationships with brands – is recognised as much as [the notion that] brands want to communicate with them,” he says. “It means that organisations have to think fundamentally about not only how they transform their communications or their advertising.”

Consequently, agencies are no longer merely piping the icing on the cake, they are to varying extent involved in the baking of the cake, “responsible for how clients transform their business, think about their propositions, their services, the way those services are delivered, and indeed the technology that can’t be overlooked, that underpins all of this”.

Digital has not only helped businesses exploit a new channel for reaching consumers, it has in some instances almost reinvented entire business segments. “The world’s largest hotel company has no hotels in Airbnb, the world’s largest media company, in Facebook, has very little content,” he says.

To reinforce his point, Vaz paints a picture of a few years ago, when, for example, taxi firm like Addison Lee may have been considering competition from black cab operators.

“You might even be worried about some of your Green Tomato-like competitors in your industry,” Vaz says. “But you’d never believe that an organisation that has no cars [such as Uber] would suddenly start to become your biggest threat for survival.

“And that’s the world we’re living in today. Where industry segments and consumer groups are starting to collapse and move very fluidly.”

While many brands may be flummoxed by the arcane complexity of digital, Vaz is quick to stress that at heart it is just another medium.

“Advertising was built on a platform that was technological – television,” he says. “What we’re now seeing is the very same revolution that television brought.

“The message is the same. You have to connect with consumers emotionally, that narrative of storytelling is very important. But how you deliver that narrative of storytelling is fundamentally changing because the mediums are forcing you to change.

“So you have to now be relevant in a Vine format in all of six seconds because that’s a medium that people are consuming content in. And if you can’t leverage that medium and create content for it, you’re missing out on some audience.”

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