At the end of 2016, Accenture Interactive kicked off a year of frenetic acquisition activity when it bought out the indie creative agency Karmarama. A year on, the now embedded Karmarama has played what Accenture calls an "integral" role in its latest deal – the acquisition of Irish agency Rothco.
Joy Bhattacharya, managing director at Accenture Interactive, told The Drum that Karmarama played a significant role during the acquisition process - Accenture's 18th in the last three years - by spotlighting firms that should come under consideration. The latest, Rothco, is one of the biggest in Ireland and boasts Tesco and Heineken among its clients and around 150 members of staff.
Bhattacharya shooed talk of agency consolidation, a trend that is rife in the wider industry, and underlined that the agencies were attractive propositions because of their own strong brands. “We want to continue on their strong brand equity individually, it helps Accenture if the brands stay as they are.”
However, there is within the growing group a willingness to pool talent, depending on the briefs that arrive from clients. “We are a collective coming together… we must be culturally joined up.”
Dismissed were worries about agencies stepping on each others’ toes in pursuit of new work, with Bhattacharya countering that the nature of the partnership should warrant a greater wellspring of opportunity. “We have enough clients to go after, I want the agencies to collectively form together when they have to to make our ambitions come alive.”
Karmarama's influence was also deemed vital in Accenture Interactive winning the Maserati agency of record in November, a luxury auto brand, the cornerstone of any high-powered agency. It is an example of the partnership bearing fruit for the holding company. The question is, would the agency have been able to pitch for the global campaign without Accenture Interactive's backing?
“They are the lead creative agency for that, that is the type of thing we can join creative data and tech at scale to drive," said Bhattacharya.
The purpose of this acquisition trail is to have the ‘experience agency’ become the de facto service clients demand. Accenture claims it is not flexing its chequebook for sheer financial growth; instead, it posits, these purchases are the fastest way to ensure that the best talent can be cherry picked from the industry at pace. It is the intent of the US group to build a new category in the industry, and there may be more acquisitions to come in 2018 to deliver this objective. “If we find the right talent we will do it,” concluded Bhattacharya.
Patrick Hickey, chief executive of Rothco, expanded on why the agency joined Accenture Interactive. “We needed the partners to help us join in on the world stage, we needed all the capabilities and scale to be a new world agency," he said. "Accenture talks about the experience agency and we thought of ourselves as that.”
The partnership gives Rothco the benefit of working with talent and insight across the company, and allows Hickey to ensure the future of the Rothco brand. On this collaborative approached he concluded: “We are hoping to merge teams together for clients together, it is not a question of who gets the brief, it is a question of assembling the right cast for the right job.”
The acquisition fee was not disclosed.