Razorfish remains one of the best known brand names in digital marketing, but the original business had all but disappeared by the end of 2019, before being relaunched again in early 2020. Owned since 2009 by Publicis Groupe, it was absorbed in 2016, after a troubled year's performance, into newly acquired sister agency SapientNitro to create SapientRazorfish. By then, though, the old Razorfish business existed in name alone. It had already passed through several different hands since it was conceived back in the boom years of the late 1990s as the most creatively adventurous of the new breed of internet agencies. Marooned by the collapse of the first internet bubble in 2001, it was rescued by technology roll-up SBI before subsequently merging with digital media group Avenue A to form aQuantive. That business was in turn snapped up by Microsoft in the frenzy of consolidation which seized the digital industry during 2007. At the end of 2009, Razorfish found itself a new corporate parent when Publicis agreed to acquire the business from Microsoft for a lavish $530m. Initially, it retained standalone branding within Publicis, working alongside other acquisitions such as Digitas, which had previously been its most significant global rival. In 2014, Rosetta and several outposts of newly acquired Nurun were also absorbed into the Razorfish network, and the whole entity was eventually swallowed up by Publicis Sapient. Razorfish was relaunched in 2020 in the US under president Josh Campo. It operates as a standalone entity alongside Publicis Sapient. An Australian outpost was relaunched in 2022 with the rebranding of local shop Performics Mercerbell.
Capsule checked 29th November 2021
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Historical profile information for Razorfish
Adbrands Daily Update 15th Jan 2020: Publicis unexpectedly announced the relaunch of the storied Razorfish brand, a year or so after its last incarnation - by then SapientRazorfish - was absorbed into its ever-expanding parent entity Publicis Sapient. Now it lives again as the banner for the digital marketing services arm of Publicis Sapient in New York under newly appointed president Josh Campo. It's a part of Publicis Communications East, the Groupe umbrella for Publicis and Saatchi & Saatchi and other agencies in New York and Cincinnati. PCE CEO Jem Ripley told Adweek, "Razorfish, from a spirit and brand focus, never really went away entirely. There are still a lot of clients that work with and refer to the agency as Razorfish. There are still a lot of folks [internally] that think of themselves that way.... In the pivot to have Publics Sapient really be focused on digital business transformation … it made sense at that point not to have everything that Razorfish was associated with be in the middle of that story arc."
Adbrands Weekly Update 24th Nov 2016: As seemed inevitable under Publicis Groupe's new Power Of One structure, despite repeated denials from senior management, the consolidation process has begun. Publicis announced the merger of the two separate digital networks of SapientNitro and Razorfish to former a single SapientRazorfish entity. SapientNitro CEO Alan Wexler retains the top job in the merged agency, with Razorfish CEO Shannon Denton becoming chief strategy officer. No announcement has been made yet as to how the respective local offices of SapientNitro and Razorfish will be combined. As part of the new digital structure, Publicis.Sapient CEO Alan Herrick moves up to chairman, and will work more closely with Groupe CEO Maurice Levy "focusing on strategy and market development at the Publicis.Sapient and Publicis Groupe level". Could this make Herrick a new contender to succeed Levy when the latter steps down in 2017? It suggests at least that there will be competition for current favourite Arthur Sadoun, head of the Publicis Communications division. The former Sapient Inc CEO has the experience of running a publicly quoted company that Sadoun lacks. In the mean time, further consolidation of other Publicis networks is likely. Indeed, Publicis.Sapient chief strategy officer Bill Kanarick told Campaign US, "Clients increasingly care less about the brand... [They] care about getting the right capability, the right set of people assembled against their challenges in the right way, and care less about the source of those people in terms of what brand they do or don't come from."
Adbrands Weekly Update 7th April 2016: Razorfish and Sapient.Nitro took the top spot in researcher Gartner's latest "Magic Quadrant" of global digital marketing agencies, taking pole position among agencies described as both leaders and "visionaries". AKQA, Isobar, IBM and R/GA also took prominent positions in Gartner's analysis. DigitasLBi, OgilvyOne and iCrossing were also among the leaders. See here for the full Quadrant.
Adbrands Weekly Update 22nd Oct 2015: Sincere condolences to the family and friends of Razorfish Global CEO Tom Adamski who has passed away at the age of just 43 after a short battle with cancer. Formerly CEO of Publicis Groupe's Rosetta digital unit, Adamski was appointed as head of an enlarged Razorfish Global network only a year ago. North America chief Shannon Denton was named as interim CEO of Razorfish Global.
Adbrands Weekly Update 4th June 2015: One of the last remaining links between Publicis Groupe and Dentsu was severed this week with the dissolution of their partnership in Tokyo-based digital agency Dentsu Razorfish. That unit predates Publicis's acquisition of Razorfish, with the 2007 rebranding of what had previously been a Dentsu-owned agency, Digital Palette. It has continued to exist as a joint venture ever since, and even survived Dentsu's exit from Publicis Groupe's shareholder list in 2012. This week, Dentsu bought out the remaining 20% holding controlled by Publicis in the business and will rebrand the agency next month as Dentsu iX.
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