Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Rise of the Maths Men Muscling into Advertising

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Rise of the Maths Men Muscling into Advertising

Article excerpt

Byline: media analysis Gideon Spanier

IT says something about the changing fortunes of the London economy that a vast former Merrill Lynch trading floor in Farringdon has been the home of advertising agency Karmarama for the past few years.

The 300-strong agency, which looks after brands such as Just Eat and Costa Coffee, was independently owned until November, when a surprising buyer emerged. It wasn't one of the big six global ad groups such as WPP or Publicis. Instead, it was Accenture -- the consulting giant with 384,000 staff -- which paid an estimated PS50 million.

This was the first time Accenture had bought a traditional ad agency but it was far from its first acquisition in the creative sector. Like other management consulting firms, Accenture has been quietly building its own digital advertising and marketing division, called Accenture Interactive.

Deloitte, EY, KPMG and PwC and some of the big software groups have also been gobbling up creative agencies -- chiefly in the areas of digital, design and user experience.

Accenture, which wants to build "the world's largest digital agency", has been the most acquisitive, snapping up six agencies last year, ahead of IBM's five and Deloitte's three, according to Clarity, a corporate advisory firm that specialises in M&A in marketing services. A number of factors have prompted the Maths Men from the consulting and technology sectors to make a land grab for the territory occupied by the Mad Men from the advertising agency groups.

First, advertising and media are becoming more measurable and accountable in an era of digital and data. The Maths Men argue they can bring more rigour to the marketing process than the Mad Men.

Second, there is a recognition that creativity and design are becoming more important to business in a broader sense. The consultants already claim to offer an end-to-end solution for clients -- from strategy and insight to new product development and execution to launch and distribution. …

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