Accenture Interactive has been added to Shell's CRM roster, tasked with working closely alongside the brand's lead digital agency Wunderman to deploy campaigns for the oil giant.
The Drum understands that Accenture was enlisted by Shell around eight months ago following a competitive pitch, but the appointment has been kept under wraps until now.
WPP-owned Wunderman remains Shell's lead digital agency, with a remit to provide "overall global strategic planning and creative direction for Shell’s CRM programmes globally".
Accenture's customer experience arm, meanwhile, will be tasked with supporting and deploying CRM campaigns across Shell’s digital channels with the aim of boosting "one-to-one customer relationships" using Adobe software, as a managed service.
Wunderman has been the lead CRM account for Shell since 2013 when its loyalty budget was estimated to be worth £30m.
While Accenture has won only a small portion of the overall business it's a task that was previously handled by Wunderman, marking the latest instance of management consultancies edging closer to the budgets previously reserved for digital, media and creative agencies.
Ex-WPP chief executive Sir Martin Sorrell has previously voiced scepticism about the likes of Accenture, KPMG and Deloitte trying to eat digital agencies' lunch.
Sorrell's successor and former Wunderman head Mark Read – who is currently working to simplify WPP's operations through a period of consolidation – said last month that the competition between agencies and consultancies has arisen "because the consultants are doing some of the things we historically did and in part because we are doing new things that we didn’t use to do that the consultants did".
"So I would look at it in both directions," he said during WPP's Q2 earnings call.
"And within that lies what we need to do to be successful. We have to understand how to implement the end marketing technology in our company and help to help clients develop programs that run through from strategy to creative to the execution of technology. That's where we were at successful Wunderman and where we can put big programs that are in place with clients."
Read said to compete with the consultancies WPP needs to hire "a somewhat different mix of talent", some of whom will be from the consulting firms themselves. The network has already done so in tapping former Accenture digital exec Shannon Dix to lead its Singapore office and Jason Warnes from Deloitte to lead Wunderman's pitch to get on Shell's wider 'agency of the future' roster earlier this year.
"Interestingly, [the people we've hired from consultancies] had agency backgrounds before so there is a sort of hybrid individual that we are heading towards.
"[We need] different types of talent to understand technology, but we also understand how agency businesses work," finished Read.
For its part, Shell said it wants to "drive deeper and more meaningful connections with customers across every touchpoint" with the Accenture appointment. The brief includes building a robust digital network for global and local campaigns.
Joy Bhattacharya, Accenture Interactive lead for UK and Ireland said this would be achieved through "the consolidation of systems and services, we aim to drive efficiencies and scale personalised marketing campaigns, creating greater experiences for Shell customers”.
The move bookends a year of change for Shell's agency roster for its retail and lubricants arms.
In July it was revealed that creative agency of record J Walter Thompson London was to split the account it held for two decades with Wunderman, Geometry Global, VCCP, Dentsu and a host of other agencies.
WPP-owned MediaCom held on to the global media account.