They Know The Rules, But They Don't Know The Game.
Accenture and big consulting want to control the creative industry to win more revenue for themselves, not to produce revenue boosting creative for their clients.
There is really no difference between Sorrell’s WPP and Accenture, Deloitte’s etc. They are ethically neutral organizations that place profit before product and people. (read Fortune's interview with Kevin Sneader, CEO of McKinsey for proof - slippery).
Accenture’s say the reason they are buying up quality creative agencies is because they can bring back the power to those agencies - predicated by their belief that they have relationships with the CEO’s of big business, whereas ad agencies no longer sit at that table.
True on both counts. Sadly.
However, businesses such as Accenture have no idea how to run creative organizations – they think they do, but companies driven by EQ, as creative shops are, require a completely different leadership philosophy and practice than IQ driven companies.
As the great Liverpool Manager Bill Shankly (so difficult for me to put the words “great” and “Liverpool in one sentence) once said about referees: “They know the rules but they don’t know the game”.
Great creative agencies are driven primarily by producing great creative ideas – as one said to me this week – “we measure a client by the size of their creative ambition, not their budget”.
I can see the Accenture guys rolling their eyes right now at that shtick.
But it’s true. I lived it. So have all the truly great creative leaders and owners of great creative shops. Wieden, Goodby, Porter & Bogusky, Boiler, Clow…..Droga.
Droga 5 is a great agency, an absolute coup for Accenture. I’m happy for David and his crew. They deserve the rich rewards of the deal and I, stomach-churningly, would have done the same thing.
And whilst he and his founding leadership team are still around, they will protect the integrity of the brand.
But the deal is all about money. It’s not about making the industry or the work better.
I seldom wish this, but this time I truly hope I’m wrong and that this deal signifies a massive step forward for creativity in business.
The proof will be in the product.
*Accenture intend to take an active role in the businesses they buy - all the deals they are touting (i have been involved in one) are about buying total control with significant if not all the money paid up front. And locking in the principles is not as vital to them as it has been with other dealmakers.