Publicis Groupe has announced the launch of its Publicis Sapient operating unit in the MENA region. Digital agency Flip, which under Publicis Communications, has rebranded as SapientRazorfish. It has already won a contract with property developer Emaar.
SapientRazorfish will be led by Kareem Monem (pictured), previously managing director of Flip. Flip has been part of Publicis Sapient since the Groupe realigned its MENA digital operations in late 2016, and Monem is now managing director of Publicis Sapient MENA.
Publicis Sapient also contains Digitas LBi, which already has a presence in the region, and Sapient Consulting.
“The summary on the tin for Publicis Sapient is helping our clients be relevant in a digital world,” said Nigel Vaz, Publicis Sapient’s London-based CEO of EMEA and APAC. “So helping them fundamentally reimagine the customer experience, reimagine their internal processes, reimagine the technology in order to deliver more growth, more cost efficiency and better experiences for their customers.”
He added: “SapientRazorfish is at the heart of the Publicis Sapient idea, because what it’s focused on is experience-led transformation. It is about being, doing and saying the same sets of things. It’s about not creating the cognitive dissonance between what you say and what you do. … Digitas LBi is all about marketing transformation through data. … Sapient Consulting is primarily about leveraging technology and strategic consulting in order to fulfil the transformation journey that many companies need to go through.”
Publicis Sapient will continue to work closely with Raja Trad, CEO of Publicis Communications MEA, said the company.
Three weeks ago, SapientRazorfish won a competitive pitch for UAE real-estate developer Emaar. Other major clients include Miral (the developer behind Abu Dhabi’s Yas Island) and UAE telecoms firm du, which has long been with Publicis Communications’ Leo Burnett and had worked with Flip through that partnership.
Across Publicis Communications and Publicis Sapient, Trad estimates digital makes up 20-22 per cent of work, but if ongoing plans and pitches come to fruition, this could rise to 30-35 per cent before the end of the year. Internationally, Publicis Groupe plans to raise digital’s contribution to its revenue from 54 per cent in its October 2016 earnings call to 60 per cent by 2018.
Monem said he expects SapientRazorfish’s staff to double in number in 2017, from between 50-60 today. The agency’s Dubai hub is currently hiring at the rate of about 10 people a month.
Although Publicis Sapient may look later at expansion in Saudi Arabia as the region’s biggest market and one that is dedicated to digital development as part of the kingdom’s Vision 2030 development plan, Vaz said SapientRazorfish operates a “global distributed delivery model”, which uses teams around the world to service markets remotely. It will also continue to use Publicis Communications resources such as its social media hub in Lebanon.