CNBC's Marketing Media Money: Accenture Interactive

CNBC's Marketing Media Money: Accenture Interactive



it's a huge company that many people have never heard of but in recent years Accenture one of the biggest management consultancies on the planet has moved heavily into marketing so why did they do it and how are they disrupting the industry they'll be finding out on this edition of marketing medium-length in a moment I'll be speaking to Brian Whipple CEO of Accenture Interactive the head of the marketing division but first James writes looks at how Accenture came to be making waves in marketing on the 1st of January 2001 Accenture was born of course it wasn't a new company but a rebrand formerly known as Andersen consulting Accenture was a management consultancy mainly known for technology and service outsourcing so how come the company got into marketing well I guess a couple things one is we're always looking for new services that we can provide to our clients and you it was actually over a decade ago now when Accenture underactive first got started and it really got started as an opportunity for us to combine consulting and technology and at the time some pretty basic analytics technologies to really help our clients improve their marketing performance so originally it was a pretty small scope we really wanted to go after helping the CMOS at all of our global 2000 clients and that's how that's how it first got started we've built the business we bought fewer that was one of our first acquisitions and then we began to add these creative capabilities we started to see this huge opportunity for us to help CMOS create these remarkable experiences right and that's really what our business is based on it's not based on advertising it's not based on media it's not based on creative it's based on really helping our clients create these just absolutely remarkable customer experiences and that's what's helping them drive growth fiord and acuity group were the company's first big acquisitions in 2013 for yours a design and innovation consultancy acuity group a commerce based digital agency so began a number of high profile files averaging one every three months over the following five years Accenture bought a number of digital agencies including Pacific link in Hong Kong I am Jay in Japan and why stone in us but perhaps it's more creative acquisitions that has caused a stir in the marketing industry in 2015 Austin texas-based chaotic mood joined the interactive family creative technologists studio was responsible for virtual reality games like shark punch a year later karma Rama entered the fold the uk-based creative agency is the brains behind ad campaigns for brands like Unilever just eat and Honda Australia's ad agency of the year has been creating creative for the likes of Ikea and Qantas the monkeys were acquired in 2017 the pace continued through 2018 digital marketing agency MXM works with brands like Volkswagen and Kraft and the company behind Emmy award-winning visual effects for Game of Thrones became one of the more recent creative acquisitions for the company macrovision creates computer-generated imagery and immersive content well you know we've always been good at organically growing talent in this sort of technology and consulting spaces so we knew how to do that and we've been doing that and that's been part of our growth strategy but particularly in these areas like creative like fjord the design firm like karma Rama in the UK I building something like that from scratch is a whole nother right challenge and candidly we knew we didn't really have the right setting the right culture the right leadership to do that quick enough so a lot of it was about getting the leading capabilities with speed you surprised just how big an impact Interactive is making as part of the whole business candidly I don't think so I mean we knew we wanted it be big did we know that it would be over six billion dollars last year I think that exceeded our expectations in terms of how quickly we are able to grow that business one other thing that really played out well for us that we maybe couldn't have foreseen its just how important Accenture interactive is to us is sort of a tip of our spear if you will we like to use that term in terms of helping us really identify and shape those big digital transformation programs for our clients and so they're a big part of that as well Brian thank you for sitting down with us to be here so Accenture Interactive started in 2010 how has it grown since then it's grown a lot back in that era we were an amalgamation of digital assets and a handful of software services and the like largely focused around technology personalization things of that nature really around the very beginnings of the intersection of marketing and technology but it were really really more smaller plays for large clients but we would do things like personalized websites and digital diagnostic tools and things of that nature that was essentially the genesis of attention or actor and why did Accenture a consulting firm decide to get into marketing well they have two very important assets that were credibly relevant to the CMO and one was they were already a trusted advisor to these large you know Fortune thousand fortune 2,000 clients where large clients were accustomed and trusted Accenture to spend large sums of money with them on multi-year contracts now most of that applied to the information technology world or business consulting world and the second thing they had was a commitment to penetrate the marketing space so when you marry the two there was an easy bridge that Accenture foresaw and that's largely when I joined when we could natchok take a natural jump from the CEO and CIO to the CEO and CMO of some of the large companies fiord and acuity group two big acquisitions what was the strategy behind that fjord is more of a classic kind of type-a acquisition for us where would be adding a new capability and the acuity group which was largely a content and commerce group would be more of a Type B acquisition for us which is scaling a capability that we were already known for but but adding scale what's the end goal are you trying to list as spin off this business at some point I mean is this become a holding company what's the the division well it definitely wouldn't be any kind of a holding company play that's not really our motto we don't like make acquisitions to add revenue or things of that nature I don't see a spinoff in the near future because typically much of our leverage in one of our key differentiators is to do this on the shoulders of Accenture but I would tell you that the holy grail for us is to be more and more known for true experience reinvention in a variety of industries whether it be how you try on clothes at a high-end department store how you shop for shop for and purchase an automobile and not just within an extension or active but to push the overall industry to kind of change some of these experiences for human benefit biggest competitors in your opinion our bigger competition right now is the issue of inertia and risk aversion and the CEO and boardroom of the large clients that's not to say we don't have competition but our competition is typically either on smaller projects or with executives that are maybe hesitant to go for transfer your transformation talk about breaking rules when looking at the traditional agency is that something that Accenture Interactive is trying to do yeah so we depends what you mean by traditional agency so traditional agency typically would mean either advertising or media or and/or media I should say and while we do each of those to some extent we really don't do traditional media but we do digital media and we do do advertising we rarely do those in isolation so it would be unusual for us to do some big pitch where you know you have concepts a B and C and you pitch them to the CMO and you hope they hope they have the big reveal and they hope they like the one that you like and you to establish the budget together yeah that kind of thing I mean there's some of that culture and flavor and what we do for sure but we're really more focused on you know how we should try and close in the future you know how should you buy a car in the future and clearly in creativity is embedded in all of that and advertising and media and all those types of things are part of it but it's less about the agency classical agency definition Brian thank you more from Brian after this short break when we were turn the challenges involved in integrating creative businesses when we acquire a company we acquire them because we want them to be them not because we want them to be us the world is constantly changing and the consumer is changing too so the way businesses interact with customers needs to evolve it's at the heart of what Accenture does help businesses and organizations transform all to make our lives as consumers better and easier but as the business changes how does the marketing function need to change with it get Hartman is the head of Accenture interactive in North America well it's just a whole new way of looking at marketing they used to really be I guess the ultimate goal was personalization at one point getting the right message to the right person to help them buy more stuff and that's changed now it's really create experiences that can help improve the lives of people could be anything as simple as buying a car or or maybe having a better experience in healthcare or even things that are more personal on having brands be able to customize the way that they engage with people just based on their needs in the moment some personalization is dead now it's just an important foundational element but we have to take personalization to a new level of heightened relevance and at the core that is just really finding ways to empathize with the customer and to start defining success in their terms instead of the terms of an organization if marketing is changing what's the role of the CMO doing how is that evolving and changing well this is a really exciting time for Christian Louis because they've been known for a long time to be knowing the most about the customer and being this brand Stewart but now it's really a way for them to not just know about the customer but to advocate for the customer and to find ways to be relevant to the entire enterprise and have the enterprise come with them to help deliver these experiences the customers really want is CMO now the right title yeah how're you seeing the role of the CMO changing within the corporate world it's the perfect question because this idea of marketing it's just now so many more things it's just inextricably linked to technology to analytics and really to sales and customer service and a variety of other things it's way beyond advertising and way beyond broadcasting a message to try and get someone to understand where you stand for it's much more related to experience and related to finding new ways to measure success let me just pick you up on this idea of how businesses need to evolve is it that there's a destination in mind or are you just resetting the direction of travel the new goal is to find ways to create long term relationships with customers I mean it's always been the goal existed it's true but the rules have changed around that because you need a much deeper sense of empathy for the customer and you have to really understand their goals and reverse-engineer around them that means changing metrics and changing measurement and changing incentives inside an organization to really partner with a customer what happens if businesses don't sort of stand up to this challenge what happens to them if they just stand still it's not an option I mean we can see multiple examples of if anyone that's not willing to change and not willing to put the customer at the center of what they do in a in a real way from an operational standpoint organizational standpoint new skills you you can't it's it's not a nice to have it's a must have so it's just a matter of what rate of change companies can handle while they're on that journey it's not if it just when they get there tell me about the living business because I've been hearing a lot about it the notion of that is businesses are going to have to live and breathe and evolve according to consumer expectations and consumer expectations are now very fluid and are based upon experiential factors rather than exactly what they have experienced with a direct compare competitor set so Accenture now will be advising and really we're helping at the clients create and maintain living businesses for their customers how would you say culture is different at interactive versus Accenture there's common elements such as always doing what's in the clients best interests and integrity and things of that nature but if I were to take you to some of our studios in Hong Kong or Sydney Australia or London you would not think this is anything like what you might think is a consulting or IT firm you would find everything you'd associate with a with a pure experience agency which is what we typically call ourselves you'd see people in very casual dress and you'd see people with tattooed bodies and creativity is everywhere so it is kind of a merge of cultures and extension interactive and that has been enhanced even further by a number of the acquisitions we've made how did you manage the culture issues that came with bringing a smaller company on to Accenture Interactive and making sure that the integration was was seamless but also recognizing the talent that that company brought in yeah so I think the first step for us is recognizing that the integration is challenging and what is the word integration actually mean so when we acquire a company we acquire them because we want them to be them not because we want them to be us so is that there is this culture of cultures concept not clearly there needs to be some common ground and we would never be acquiring a company where the founders an executive team are not aligned with you know trying to create the best customer experiences on the planet for our clients so there is a culture of cultures attitude throughout Accenture now and definitely that is one of the foundations of extension interactive it does have its challenges at times and and clearly when you look at for some of the very successful advertising creative acquisitions we've done such as karma Rama Rothko the monkeys they have little more of an advertising agency culture and that's been great for us and they've taught us some things and we're kind of meet in the middle but there's there is sort of at the extension or active culture is one of embracing many cultures how do you continue to maintain the high spirit that these independent companies came in with so the key to that is selecting the right ones so if you are putting your company up for sale and what you really want primarily is total autonomy potentially immediate payout we might not be the best place for you if instead what you want is some level of autonomy but being part of a bigger Armada being a big ship in a big Armada taking on a wave of change in this industry around creating huge better experiences for human good so if you want to do that that's what we're that's what we do and those are the type of companies and there's a sort of self selection process and we look at many many companies that we pass on because those visions may not be aligned you're starting to see sub brands carried the interactive brand why do that in this case well when we make an acquisition those employees and those that acquisitions clients are associated with that brand and that shouldn't just go away immediately so typically there's a brand transition period so for example a bright step in Stockholm they are essentially a commerce and content group that we acquired I don't four or five years ago but what they did was typically associated with what extension or active does so there was a shorter transition period so for bright step they were a bright step commerce and content by extension Interactive or something similar for six to nine months now those resources and all of that whole bright stick team that's extension interactive Stockholm as it was for the acuity group in in the United States so when something is very easily associated with what Accenture Interactive does that brand transition strategy will be much more quick when something is a longer brand transition it's typically because like something like fewer people didn't associate service design and you know a lot of that softer consulting high-touch skill that they have and they're highly skilled at with something Accenture would be good at so that brand has typically lived on a little bit longer and I will tell you the long term destination for all sub brands as you call them is Accenture Interactive we are one team globally of one man management team and when they go to market they go to market as either extension or active or as it might be karma Rama or the monkeys and it might have a reference to creativity from extension or interactive and I'm not saying we won't have you know any sub brands under Accenture Interactive but it will not be many and they will not be going to market as you know purely separate identities still ahead on marketing medium money how do you market it century interactive we're gonna find CMOS and CEOs that have really big hairy complex consumer problems and that's where really Accenture and extension interactive can help them if Accenture interactive sold consumer goods the business would have a whole armory of marketing tricks up its sleeve but as a b2b player and business may have to be a little more creative getting the right message to the right people at the right time is still important brand advertising campaigns don't just give a nod to what extension does but also the clients they work with whether it's a cruise company on Italian fashion retailer print adverts are targeted at relevant trade press after all they know who they want to be talking to editorial focus partnerships and provocative points of view all dr.colin inches out of home may raise brand awareness with the general public but this is targeted business leaders travel so brand messages transport hubs like airports and trade events speaking of which accentuated is highly visible at events like South by Southwest and can lions which is just one place where awards have been won a useful marketing tool in itself how do you market Accenture interactive well typically we're going to let the work we're doing it for our clients speak for itself we're not big on you know outbound dialing for dollars type of stuff it's interactive typically the stuff we're doing for clients is large its complex and we're gonna find CMOS and CEOs that have really big hairy complex consumer problems and that's where really Accenture and Accenture Interactive can help them so we have a network through the Accenture account teams and we have identified a number of these experiences and consumer problems they have you experiences that are stale if you will and we approach them on that and we find collaborative partners in our client base to do that so there's not a discrete marketing effort for that per se but because we're pretty busy as it is why is it important to stay visible in this marketplace well this is not something where we're selling you know accounting systems and you know CMOS and CEOs in the digital consumer spaces are highly visible creatures they are typically extroverts they like to talk they like to listen and that is in the DNA of Accenture Interactive as well so we have to behave that way this is not about hunkering down doing projects how are you marketing your product internally among those in the sector yeah so will often bring top clients to go see what other clients are doing if you're a retail bank for example typically you'd want to know what other retail banks are doing what is their digital bank doing do they do you know mobile mobile deposits and what is their experience what is their brick-and-mortar experience versus of digital experience etc today those same clients are less interested in what their exact peer group is doing instead they want to know what's happening with Amazon what's happening with uber what's happening with Spotify how do they create seamless experiences like that for their industry so we will take the best of some of the greatest experiences out there and host workshops with our clients in that way the outer studios and what do clients get to see in these studios because when I think studio I think Hollywood movies so what are people going to actually so studio hears and think think less Hollywood light lights and cameras and all that and more studios and people working together so you have commerce technologists because people ultimately need to buy stuff typically you have digital content technologists because sometimes the regulatory language on a piece of digital content might be different on an ad that's shown in Shanghai than in San Paulo than in London so you have digital content people there then you have actual marketing campaign people creative people designing marketing campaigns for that particular product and service and you would have wearable technical people with the mask on soldering circuit boards designing wearable devices they're like a lab this would be like a look could be like a lab and we have them in one facility we bring clients to because it's really it's you know we're not you know an agency in the typical way we bring all those those capabilities together about for clients so it's a little bit different they come to this yeah showroom stood studio and kind of get a sense of what you offer yeah the site visit is a very compelling thing for us because you know we have grown very quickly and we weren't particularly well-known five to six years ago now we are but people still want to touch and feel things and see client projects and see you know wearable a vending machine that dispenses custom-made fragrances that we've designed in Asia and things of that nature talk a little bit about your story you were an eccentric consultant a number of years then you left yeah and now you're back CEO of Accenture Interactive what was it worth it coming back absolutely it was I I don't know if I would have come back if it wasn't for this kind of unique thing where they were looking for someone that happened to be sort of one half agency one half business consultant and I was kind of like home that's interesting because that's sort of who I am in my DNA and this opportunity came up and I give Accenture a lot of credit for having the foresight to see that what this could become and it's been a good match what's your biggest success story well a biggest success story has been the retention of our top executives and I am flattered by the number of top talented executives around the industry that have been asking to come work here we have some great success stories with clients like Marriott with Carnival Cruise Lines with subway in major consumer brands and we're very proud of those but I would say personally the biggest thing I'm proud of is the culture we've created extension interact and we're doing something new and that is pretty cool is there one marketing campaign that comes to mind as a prized asset under your leadership well I wouldn't say was under my leadership because we have many many leaders but if you look at the JFK unsilenced Grand Prix winner at Cohn it's a leveraging technology to complete JFK's speech that he would have given that he not been assassinated that day many years ago in his own voice and in our time and the ancient vision of peace on earth goodwill log man so that particular campaign while kind of in the exception for we do that's done by our team at Rothko and Dublin a creative agency so this is their brainchild they deserve all the credit for it but I get to be proud of it too ten years from now where do you want Accenture Interactive to be we need to be known for vastly improving the way people check in to hospitals for vastly improving the way people buy in research cars try on clothes in a department store shop for groceries things of that nature apply for a mortgage we and our eccentric colleagues need to take responsibility for pushing the industry to reinvent them because we're not there yet we're not doing enough of that and too many capital dollars are spent on the Bluetooth toasters of the world and things like that it's an interesting strategy thank you for sitting down with us thank you for having me that's it for this edition of marketing medium money find more online at CNBC comm slash mmm I'm Seema Modi thank you for watching goodbye you

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