So where are we going with all this?
The consultancies will continue to make inroads into the marketing services sector with an emphasis on strategy/creative and digital services. This will continue to threaten the big agency networks who will struggle to compete with the combination of the traditional and new services now being delivered by the consultancy firms. Accenture acquiring Karmarama shocked, yet did not surprise.
The capability gap between consulting firms and marketing agencies is narrowing. Whilst the number of consultancies acquiring advertising, digital and marketing agencies is increasing, are we really seeing a trend – and when is a perceived trend really a trend, and not just a fad? For those not in the know, a fad is defined as ‘’an intense and widely shared enthusiasm for something, especially one that is short-lived; a craze.
The Ciesco 2016 Global M&A Review highlighted major acquisition activity from Accenture, IBM, Deloitte and Capgemini – having joined the likes of McKinsey, EY and KPMG who acquired in 2015 – all purchasing tech enabled media and marketing companies, digital and advertising agencies. However, it was the transaction where Accenture Interactive acquired Karmarama, the UK’s third largest independent creative agency, that really got the attention of the media and as they put it “sent shivers down the spines of old-school denizens of adland”. Whilst Accenture’s previous acquisitions and developments in the sector enabled it to provide ‘behind-the-scenes’ digital experience offerings, this major deal is expected to bolster its strategic and creative capabilities to provide its clients with customer-facing content via multi-channel opportunities. Kind of like starting at the top and working your way through by joining up the dots in a potential complete service offering. Something that Accenture and other consultancies, if they follow that path can do – but the agencies really can’t.