“Absolutely,” states Accenture Interactive's Anatoly Roytman when asked about the possibility of hiring a global creative director in a similar vein to Publicis Groupe, even alluding to its own creative chief Nick Law being a potential candidate.
Roytman is the company's senior managing director for Europe, Africa, Latin America and Middle East, as well as its global commerce offering lead. He's understood to have a no-nonsense approach to his work and he is the same when it comes to interviews, where he is to the point when it comes to his strategy in how to move the business forward.
He joins The Drum in Austin during SXSW at the cantina opposite the main conference facility where most of the talks take place throughout the Texan music, film and digital festival. Accenture Interactive has taken over space for a few days and is showcasing some of its tech, including a facial recognition-enabled photobooth to help promote Disney's remake of Dumbo. There is building work going on a few feet from the venue, which makes it difficult to hear each other, but what he says is still plainly stated when it comes to what he intends to do.
It’s only three-and-a-half-weeks before the business announces the poorly kept secret that it intends to purchase one of the most famous independents in ad land, Droga5, announced last week.
When quizzed on how he intends to improve the creative reputation of Accenture Interactive – which has been accused by rivals like Wunderman as not being creative enough (in spite of previous acquisitions like Karmarama, The Monkeys and Fjord) – Roytman is straight in his response, admitting that Accenture offshoot must prove itself.
“I remember when we first went to Cannes, people laughed at us: ‘Oh my God!’ We were in a little booth and people were saying ‘Accenture? Look at them. What are they doing here? Obviously, they shouldn’t be part of this.’ But last year nobody laughed anymore," he notes.
He points out that in 2018 the business added eight coveted Lions and one Grand Prix to its burgeoning trophy cabinet: "I haven’t counted the total, that we won all over the place.”
He sounds slightly frustrated in the rate of progress as he continues, but reveals the business gets constant approaches from "top creative people" at "the top places" who he believes want to escape the traditional agency models.
“Client-wise, most company chief marketing officers are still very traditional, they came from 70 years of ‘Marlboro Men’ but now they are being pushed into something that they are not comfortable with and they are looking for new partners," he explains.
"If you look at the companies we've bought, they are the top in each of their countries. [Our approach] is very different to what holding companies do – we don’t bring in creatives for them to sit there and do what they do, they become part of the big idea that is a part of the experience.
"They need to bring the skills to be able to drive the broader [business] agenda."
Roytman says when he meets with creatives, he asks them ‘are you ready to become bigger than yourself?’.
"It’s a very different approach. For creatives, it’s all about ego and it’s all about 'me' but realising in this day and age [they] cannot just focus on [their own] skill, need to combine it with other people as that is where the star is born. That is where the magic happens.”
The day following the interview, The Drum will speak to members of Accenture Interactive’s Creative Council, which features chiefs from each of the agencies that have been acquired in order to unify talent and insights globally. The crux of the session is the agreement that there is a shared value in one another’s ideas and opinions, and despite having an unquestionably talented group on the council, Roytman expresses his belief that it needs a figurehead to lead them.
“It’s not one person, it’s a collective,” he says of the the council. “We are not yet at the same level in every region but this is where we are headed and then something will emerge,” he explains, in reference to the desire to name a creative chief at some stage this year.
“I offered it to Nick Law [Publicis Group’s global executive creative director] on stage last year,” he remembers, referring to a panel session held at Cannes that featured pre-recorded video questions from senior industry individuals, including Roytman, being posed to Law and Arthur Sadoun, on the main stage the previous summer.
“I told him he [would] only spend a year there and then come back. We need people like him because he has two parts of the brain functioning and there are too few people like that. We have them as well but right now we are only building it regionally.”
With the acquisition of Droga5, in David Droga, that creative leader is perhaps already in place.