Singing the same Song? Inside Accenture’s agency overhaul
Following its extensive rebrand as Accenture Song, we explore why the consultancy decided to relaunch its agency network.
Accenture hopes its new Song positioning will appeal to clients. Will they take to its tune? / Unsplash
Accenture – which had spent years buying up prestigious indie shops such as Karmarama and Fjord under the Interactive umbrella – announced at the end of April that it was merging those businesses into a single entity. All except Droga5, that is, whose namesake founder now leads the network. But why go to all that trouble and stop short of the finish line? And what does a merger on the scale of Accenture Song actually achieve?
According to Pritesh Gadhia, UK lead for Accenture Song, the Droga5 brand survived because it was just too valuable internationally to cull. ”It’s a decision we made because it’s an enduring and well-known brand and it feels right to keep that brand alive. It brings something unique in many other different parts of the world... it has such far reaching recognition and consistency across different markets.”
Any agencies acquired in the future, though, won’t be afforded the same laissez-faire approach. ”If we acquire a new component, they would come under Accenture Song,” confirms Gadhia.
The name itself, ’Song’ appears to be something of a blank canvas for agency workers to project hopes, dreams and artistic tastes on to. ”It’s different for everybody,” says Gadhia. ”It’s about a unique and enduring personal reflection and point of view. It’s about inspiration. It’s about connection. It’s about humanity. It’s about imagination.”
For Abbie Walsh, head of product innovation in Europe, it’s about ”bringing together different influences, or different kinds of voices, together in harmony”.
She says: ”I love harmonious music; I’m a massive Beatles fan, but there’s two sides to the Beatles. There’s the really beautiful, simple, harmonious tunes and there’s the really experimental stuff they did in the mid to late 60s. For me, Song has the ability to do both.”
Revolver and Paperback Writer aside, the launch of Song was months in the making and won’t have been an inexpensive endeavor.
Justifying it are both external and internal objectives. Walsh tells The Drum the move means an end to the variety of business models Accenture Interactive’s agencies were permitted to maintain – and the beginning of more strenuous efforts to cook up a cross-Accenture corporate culture, rather than scores of individual agency identities.
”When you acquire lots of different business models, they come in with their own operating models. This [the launch] is about getting behind one organizational structure and one way of working together.”
The rebrand accelerates the work of integration, she says. ”This moment... is about taking away any barriers that might have been left.”
A top down approach is necessary due to the scale of the challenge. ”You need a vision and a purpose, something that’s bigger than all of us that we can look up to and all buy into. That’s not going to be successful unless people on the ground can make it real... it comes down to having a solid center.”
Walsh says there had been few ”real barriers” remaining that divided agencies culturally or organizationally, but that the rebrand has brushed away ”the last vestiges of what was there originally”.
An integrated business architecture and more harmonious company culture should help Accenture offer clients combined offerings across service lines.
Gadhia says he has seen increased demand for digital capabilities on a bigger scale and smaller timeframe from clients since the beginning of the pandemic. ”What Accenture Song allows us to do is bring our capabilities together much more effectively in terms of creativity and technology... and so we can turn the dial much quicker for clients and, honestly, be less confusing to them.”
He suggests Song will be ”more singular and defined in the industry” than Interactive’s many faces were. ”The talent is all still there and coming together more easily,” he notes, but clients ”don’t have to be burdened by the question of ’which brand am I talking to?’”. Consequently, he says the merger is ”making a difference already” with clients. It won its first major client under the Song name last month, picking up the global creative account for Scandinavian dairy brand Arla following a competitive pitch.
”The clarity it gives us... to bring together the technology, the platforms, the data, the creativity and the design, on the shoulders of Accenture, is how we can drive transformations and change with clients.”
Even if clients find the approach less confusing, staff that had spent years contributing to the reputations of The Monkeys or Rothco might not share their enthusiasm. Does Accenture value their contribution?
”When these agencies joined what was then Accenture Interactive, we always knew we were going to operate as one,” argues Gadhia. ”Of course change is difficult... but from all the agency leaders, all the seniors and juniors, it has been brilliant to see the positivity.
”When I joined Accenture, it was just off the back of [its previous brand identity] Anderson, but you’ve got to remember that its the same brilliant people, just coming together more easily.” The merger, he says, opens up a whole new level of opportunities for people all across Accenture.