I've been pestering Sapient with a few questions. Craig Endicott from Ad Age who did the Top 50 Interactive Agency ranking told me that Sapient did not submit an application last year. I thought, humm, that's odd. "Absent" to "#2" in just one year, eh? So, I asked Sapient if they were ever listed in the ranking before.
The answers unfold this way: Sapient ranked in the Ad Age rankings in 1999, 2000, and 2001. The company did not submit a response for four years. Remember the Ad Age ranking is US-based interactive revenue. In the U.K., however, the company has consistently ranked 1 or 2 interactive agency in the U.K.'s New Media Age leading interactive magazine. But, a corporate spokesperson describes the sudden reappearance on the Interactive scene in the US this way:
"Following the Internet bust, while Sapient continued to do great design and brand work for marquee clients such as Hilton and United Airlines, our external marketing focus shifted to outsourcing and other complex business and IT solutions which were big pain points for our customers.
As we started getting increased demand for our web services and recognized the early shift towards digital media, we opted to round out our capabilities very rapidly withthe acquisition of Planning Group. This move also reinvigorated our focus on Experience Marketing. Moving forward, you will be seeing much, much more from Sapient in the area of Experience Marketing."
Now. What's at issue here still remains, is Sapient deserving of the number 2 ranking… ahead of, Digitas and Agency.com? Then again, does it matter? I think it does matter and each of these firms bring unique capabilities to the market and deserve to be niched where they belong.
In 2000, I gave Sapient the only 5-star classification and commented the company existed in a "class of its own" in my ITSA research report on the e-services providers market. Sapient was also awarded "most admired competitor" from the other firms profiled in the 300+ page report. I am not, not a Sapient basher. In fact, Sapient, with its full breadth of capability has a tremendous advantage in today's market.
But, let's give the real Interactive Agencies their due… Does Tribal DDB and AKQA look like Sapient?