Deloitte Digital lures DigitasLBi’s Ilicco Elia to head up mobile division

Deloitte describes itself as 'a creative digital consultancy' / Deloitte Digital

Deloitte Digital has hired mobile ad industry veteran Ilicco Elia from DigitasLBi as its head of mobile, sending yet another signal of the management consultancy's intention to bolster its marketing services offering.

Elia joined Deloitte last week after almost six years at the helm of DigitasLBi, where he led the Publicis-owned agency's efforts to put mobile at the forefront on all client offerings.

He has been a prominent voice in the UK digital industry, and at one point was listed as one of the top-100 most influential people in the sector by Media Guardian – this was during his time at Thomson Reuters.

Speaking to The Drum, he said the move to Deloitte was one spurred by the "opportunity" to work with a greater breadth of clients and "actually solve the problems companies have all the way down the stack."

He will work closely with Olivier Binse, UK head of products and apps at Deloitte Digital, across the UK and North West Europe to build its mobile offering and connect its engineering, design and advisory services.

"Mobile solutions are core to what clients need to do going forward. By putting people across multiple disciplines you can make sure mobile takes advantage of the engineering [solutions] Deloitte has for clients, as well as the design and strategy. It's not just building an application; it's about delivering a service that happens to be on mobile and delivering business change because of that service," he said.

"I can't wait to get embedded into a host of different types of clients."

A DigitasLBi spokesperson confirmed to The Drum that leadership of the DigitasLBi UK mobile team will now be assumed by Sergio Falletti, a technology partner at the agency.

​Blurred lines

News of Elia's hire comes at a time when traditional management consultancies are increasingly looking to get in on the advertising and media sector, with certain industry sources noting how 10 years ago there was very little resemblance between such consultancies and media outfits.

However, now they are successfully leveraging their C-suite influence and change management expertise to get a bigger bite of the cherry, according to Scott Brinker founder of ChiefMartec.com, who spoke previously with The Drum about 'The Blurring Lines Between Management Consultancies and Ad Agencies.'

Acquisitions and talent hires are just some of the indicators of this trend, with Accenture Digital last month hiring Trinity Mirror's programmatic chief Amir Malik to lead its soon-to-launch first party trading desk initiative.

Heightened as the conversation is around how much of a threat this poses to traditional advertising groups – like the one Elia has departed – he refused to be drawn on why it's more compelling for clients.

"It's different types of companies. I'm more interested in what I can do [for Deloitte] than what other companies can't do," he said.

Developing an end-to-end service

Binse said that Deloitte Digital's core offering is uniquely positioned to help clients (be it marketers or chief executive officers) better respond to the pace of change in the digital space.

"They need to work across silos and increasingly clients are asking for support to be 'fit' for digital and the change it brings," he said. "We position ourselves to drive digital transformation – be it making apps or website interfaces or implementing digital technologies inside an organisation – so in that position we're able to meet the market demand."

However, he added that the landscape is challenging because "lots of organisations are equipped to take that broader brief," including the burgeoning marketing divisions of fellow management consultants.

Speaking at an event hosted by The Drum last month, Joydeep Bhattacharya, managing director UK of Accenture's marketing division, Interactive, spoke of his outfit’s ambitions to offer brands an end-to-end experience – one he hoped would offer increased accountability.

“Agencies are known for really cutting edge work… consultancies are known for a richness of data and really how to scale things up,” he told attendees as he spoke of the various agencies, including Karmarama, that it has brought into the mix in order to connect its data capabilities with creativity.

Rumours that Deloitte will look to integrate more traditional marketing services into its digital division have been mounting of late.

The Drum recently revealed that it is understood to be interested in acquiring Engine Group, the owner of marketing service agencies such as WCRS, Partners Andrew Aldridge and Mischief (although other suitors also said to be in the frame).

At the time, Deloitte declined the opportunity to comment on the reports of the potential acquisition. A spokesperson said: “We continuously look for opportunities to better support our clients, including internal expansion and the acquisition of medium sized or boutique 'bolt-on' acquisitions where appropriate.”

The latest reports follow on from Deloitte Digital's 2016 purchase of the assets of Heat, an award-winning, full-service advertising agency based in San Francisco, California, with operations across traditional, digital, and social media.

Additional reporting by Ronan Shields

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