Third Horizon joins consulting division of Publicis Sapient

02 March 2020 5 min. read
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Third Horizon, a consulting firm with three offices in Australia, has been acquired by Publicis Sapient, the digital transformation consulting arm of marketing and advertising giant Publicis Groupe. 

With over 20,000 people working from 50+ offices around the globe, Publicis Sapient is one of the globe’s larger digital transformation consulting firms. The group was formed in 2015, when France-headquartered Publicis Groupe acquired US-based Sapient for US$3.7 billion, just weeks after Publicis’ mega-merger with rival Omnicom fell through. 

Initially focused on marketing, communications, customer experience and technology services to clients across sectors, over the past five years, Publicis Sapient has increasingly grown its management consulting offerings on the back of a targeted investment agenda. 

The firm’s leadership team has ring-fenced consulting services – strategic consulting and broader organisation and change consulting – as a key element of Publicis Sapient’s growth strategy, as the firm seeks grab a larger share of the fast growing, but also more lucrative and most strategic segment of the digital transformation landscape.

Third Horizon joins consulting division of Publicis Sapient

The acquisition of Third Horizon Consulting fits in this context, explained Nigel Vaz, the Global Chief Executive Officer of Publicis Sapient. “With the addition of their market-leading capabilities in management consulting, we will be able to offer one of the most comprehensive end-to-end transformational solutions for our clients.”

The move demonstrates the growing convergence between the previously traditional but now blended worlds of marketing and advertising versus consulting and transformation. Consulting giants such as Accenture, Deloitte and PwC have in the past decades moved quickly and spent billions in nestling their nose into the agency space, and today they rank among the largest players in the landscape alongside the ‘Big Four’ of Publicis, WPP, Interpublic and Omnicom. 

More recently, agencies have been hitting back, building their own consulting teams, as well as acquiring management consulting firms to accelerate the capability building process. Among many of such deals, in the US, Omnicom bought Dallas-based consulting firm Credera in 2018, and last year, creative agency Havas bought business consultancy Gate One in the UK. 

Third Horizon Consulting

Australia’s Third Horizon Consulting was founded in 2004 and helps clients with offerings in strategic insights, operating model transformation, sales & marketing, technology enablement, culture & change management, and program delivery. The consultancy works with clients such as New South Wales and Victoria State Governments, Lendlease, Powerco New Zealand, Ausgrid and the Federal Government.

“Third Horizon’s consulting experience combined with Publicis Sapient’s deep expertise in transformation through the eyes of the customer is an extremely exciting proposition.”
– Sarah Adam-Gedge

As part of the integration, a team of around 65 consultants and staff across offices in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra will join the domestic arm of Publicis Sapient. Sarah Adam-Gedge, Managing Director of Publicis Sapient Australia, said: “This deal aligns with our global strategy further accelerates the growth we are experiencing in Australia.” 

The trio of co-founders – Neville Bagot, Robert Kelly and Steven Metzmacher – previously all were partners at Arthur Andersen (now Accenture) and BearingPoint. Other Third Horizon leaders that are transferring include Glynn McConnell (ex-partner at PwC and IBM BCS), Rob Blumor (ex-partner at PwC), Ed Bridgeland (ex-PwC), Andrew Howard (ex-Accenture) and John Costello (ex-partner at PwC and EY). 

Commenting on the joining of forces with Publicis Sapient, Bagot said, “Third Horizon was established on the relentless focus of helping our clients deliver results. With the increasing interconnection of customer, digital and operating models, Publicis Sapient emerged as the obvious partner to enhance the breadth of our capabilities, and deliver value to our clients.  We couldn’t be more excited.”

Yesterday, another Australian consultancy – AlphaBeta – joined a global group following its acquisition by Accenture. Similarly, in August last year Canberra-based economics consulting firm Cadence joined the Australian arm of American accounting and advisory giant EY.