- Accenture Interactive has been sharpening its assault on ad agencies and has no plans to slow down, the company’s managing director, Anatoly Roytman, told Business Insider.
- The company plans to create full-service capabilities with each acquisition, from technology and marketing to design and creative, he said.
- Accenture Interactive is also trying to pioneer a new model by brand-building beyond advertising and getting paid based on the results.
- He also dismissed agency critics who say consulting firms lack talent, saying “everybody wants to work with us.”
Accenture Interactive has been on a tear.
Over the past year, the advertising wing of the global consulting giant has taken on the ad agency business, buying up agencies, producing work for clients like Disney and Radisson, and expanding to new geographies and areas such as programmatic advertising.
And it has no plans of slowing down anytime soon.
“We’re just getting started,” Anatoly Roytman, managing director and Europe, Africa and Latin America lead at Accenture Interactive, told Business Insider. “We want to be a formidable power.”
Business Insider caught up with Roytman, who has been instrumental in leading several acquisitions like Fjord, Karmarama and Rothco on behalf of Accenture Interactive, at SXSW earlier this month. Here’s an edited version of our conversation.
Tanya Dua: You’ve been at Accenture Interactive since it was a nascent concept. How has it changed over the years?
Anatoly Roytman: When I started, we had this organization called “New Businesses,” in which Accenture bought lots of little companies, but didn’t know what to do with them. We needed to make it more structured and expand into new areas like marketing, technology and creative. We started with e-commerce and then got into content, so the next obvious step was marketing. Fjord put us into the design category. After that we introduced creative in different ways, starting from digital agencies.
Dua: Is the puzzle complete, or are there still some missing pieces?
Roytman: About three years ago, I came to a point when I started looking for a real creative agency, because I realized that to compete in this end-to-end space, you have to have creative credibility. Buying Karmarama was a big step forward in that regard, and it was the first time that we stepped on the toes of the holding companies. We’re just getting started. We want to be a formidable power, and our strategy with every subsequent acquisition is to create full-service capabilities, from technology and marketing to design and creative.
Dua: You’re competing with agencies but also other consultancies. How do you differentiate yourselves?
Roytman: If you pay 50 different agencies for doing 50 different things, none of them will be responsible for the outcome. We have positioned ourselves as the experience architects for brands. Just like when you build a building, you need an architect. We pitched this idea for a few years, and then one pharmaceutical company, about a year ago, issued an RFP for an experience agency of record. They said, “We need somebody to just double the sales, who can help us create new markets, help us with products, develop the advertising and then be compensated based on the results.” That is a type of project that none of the consultants can do or agencies can do. And that’s what I believe is the future.
Dua: Do you think you’ve made progress?
Roytman: When we first started talking about this idea of an “experience agency of record,” people looked at me like I was crazy. But we felt that brands weren’t yet looking at the big issues that they were going to face. It’s not just advertising or marketing; it’s as much about sales, services. We have quite a few clients, but we need big names like L’Oréal and others. And that’s also why we ventured into media, because you cannot do it without media. We are what I like to call a “cagency,” a mix of a consultancy and an agency.
Dua: Are marketers on board with your approach?
Roytman: 99% of the CMOs in the world are used to the old ways of working, which is that, “I have $1 billion I need to spend, I need to hire a glossy agency, they help me to spend it, I get an award, and then I claim that sales went up because of that.” If sales go up, then they’re golden, but if sales went down, they get fired. The majority of them don’t understand this new world we are describing, where it’s not about advertising only. It’s scary for them, because it requires understanding of things they have never dealt with. And most of the people want to preserve this life for as long as they can. Newer CMOs get that. We are working with a major airline, for example, to create a new product for a new segment they’ve never covered. It’s about branding, about defining the services and executing everything behind it.
Dua: Why do you think you’re poised to disrupt media-buying?
Roytman: We’re not just mimicking what they (media agencies) do. We want to do it in a fully transparent way, which breaks the model that has existed for decades. Once we have fully scaled media capabilities, nobody will contract with them at that level. Who would want to have kickbacks, shady deals?
Dua: How do you respond to the criticism that consultancies don’t produce any tangible work?
Roytman: It’s hard because Accenture is our parent company, and they are much more cautious about doing announcements. So you see only the tip of the iceberg. But as Accenture gets used to the business and people like me and understands that we need to do it differently, you will see a lot more of it. We are applying for and winning more awards as well, and the logic behind it is very simple. Creative people need the awards, they need the recognition and they need to know that they are producing good stuff.
Read More: Ad agencies say consulting firms never actually produce work for clients. Here’s how Accenture Interactive is proving them wrong.
Dua: What challenges do you face?
Roytman: With all the acquisitions, we still need to create a global family. Most of the agencies are focused on their region. What helps is that we have one P&L, so there’s no competition. That is an inherent problem with the holding company model and something we wanted to avoid from the get-go. We still need to embrace AI in marketing and AI in media. You need smart people who understand the local media market, but after that, all the transactions, they need to be automated. That’s what we’re working on. We’re trying to use blockchain for many different things.
Dua: What about talent?
Roytman: It’s not an issue. I’m talking to the top creative people from the top holding companies. They may say publicly that “Oh yeah, those people are not cool,” but I’m bombarded with CVs. Everybody wants to work for us and everybody wants us to buy them. They know that we’re a threat and are out to disrupt their business. The only caveat is that we’re looking for people who want to do something bigger than themselves. We have no space for old-time creatives and their egos. In this day and age, you cannot create anything without collaborating.
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