This could be the case if your head office is in the UK and your consultant is Accenture. The latter’s November, 2016 acquisition of creative agency Karmarama [1] caught my eye because Marketing Wilderness previously came at this same topic from a different direction (see THE THOUGHT THAT COUNTS)—which was about a creative agency taking on broader business consulting roles.

This isn’t a UK-only trend, as the top consultancies are all very international. It’s also not a new trend. It was reported much earlier in this decade in North America, but those acquisitions were in the areas of digital marketing, user experience and mobile and web design. So the new news is that the big consultancies are interested in having their own creative agency capabilities, which should encompass the entire marketing mix.

Avi Dan, author of an article on the same topic in Forbes [2] puts the reason for this trend brutally and succinctly:

“If you want to have an impact you need to own the high-level business strategy, something that ad agencies have completely abdicated. The management consultancies deliver on those high-level strategy needs, as well as creative solutions and campaign analytics.”

Let’s be clear that this is a trend in the big global client space and the digital marketing space. It’s the global multinationals like WPP, Omnicom and Publicis that are affected by this competition.

What does the future look like?

It’s a safe bet that consultancies will be more successful in selling down-function than creative agencies (of the present) will ever be selling up-function. Even in enlightened companies where marketing isn’t considered a lower-value function, the consultancy’s client relationship is with the CEO, while the marketing agency’s relationship is with the CMO.

Hence the need to be a marketing agency of the future, whatever size you are.

Notes and references:

  1. Main photo credit: Don Cheadle, star of “House of Lies”, © Showtime Networks Inc.
  2. Gideon Spanier, “Accenture and Karmarama deal to spark M&A frenzy”, campaign, Dec 1, 2016.
  3. Avi Dan, “Consultants Are Eating The Agencies’ Three-Martini Lunch”, Forbes, Apr 25, 2016.