From the ashes: Razorfish returns while Mercerbell is out at Publicis

Publicis Groupe is bringing back Razorfish in Australia, in turn ditching the Performics Mercerbell brand.

Performics will continue to operate as a separate performance marketing entity, with current Performics Mercerbell CEO Jason Tonelli heading up both separate agencies.

Leadership team L-R: Jennifer Lloyd, Jason Tonelli, Andie Tickner, Vaughan Townsend, Jessica Farrell, George Sarris.

The local move comes two years after Publicis revived the brand initially in the US, after officially ‘retiring’ it several years prior. Publicis’ local CEO, Michael Rebelo said the Razorfish brand best reflects where the business has evolved to, as a digital marketing transformation network.

“After almost two years into the Performics Mercerbell journey, we identified that what the agency has been doing in data, technology, creative and media has really accelerated as a single proposition for its customers.”

“And as we look to the future, we can see a clear opportunity for Razorfish to supercharge the development and delivery of creatively-led platforms, whilst at the same time using the intelligence from media and ad technology to holistically solve problems for brands,” Rebelo continued.

Razorfish Australia was intially merged in 2016 with SapientNitro to form SapientRazorfish, then two years later the Razorfish brand was dropped entirely with the digital transformation agency rolled into the Publicis Sapient brand, which continues to operate to this day. The retiring of Razorfish, alongside SapientNitro and 2Datafish was then labelled as a “shift directly towards what clients now require”.

In 2016, Publicis Groupe reported a €527m (U$736m) net loss in 2016, admitting to “serious issues” at Razorfish, which ultimately led to the group packaging the brand with Sapient, which it acquired a year prior.

“This led us to merge Razorfish and SapientNitro in order to create the world’s first entity dedicated to consumer experience, and to book an impairment charge in our 2016 accounts,” said the company at the time.

Razorfish staff

Jason Tonelli said: “Culturally we are perfectly aligned to the Razorfish brand and approach – from our ambition to connect purpose to performance, to the work we already do for our customers. We connect media, data and tech creatively through ‘intent’. Our proven approach to digital marketing transformation is to create experiences that convert intention into growth for our customers so that we achieve the desired outcome by activating a brand’s purpose across channels.”

The Razorfish brand houses around 100 staff across the Melbourne and Sydney markets, with Performics sitting alongside it, with around eight staff.

Alongside the rebrand, Razorfish has also brought in two new pieces of business, GuildSuper and IVE Group, both of which “underscore the focus on connecting purpose to performance”, Tonelli said.

“We will be developing new territories for these brands to own, with plans to go to market next year.”

Adding to the reshuffle, George Sarris, current general manager is now chief operating officer, with Andie Tickner also brought in as chief customer officer. She joins from Creata Australia.

On the appointments, Tonelli added: “I’m excited to welcome Andie to the agency. As part of her remit, she will lead our account service teams across all disciplines and help our customers unlock the value of connecting purpose to performance. I am really proud to be able to recognise George for his contribution to our business – in his new role, leading the orchestration of customer solutions across the areas of content, analytics, strategy and technology.”

The Razorfish client list also includes Westpac, Anytime Fitness, Lenovo, AMEX, Red Energy and


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