Accenture Is Buying Droga5, an Ad Agency, Making a Bet on Creativity


"People want a lot more responsibility, but not at the expense of magic and emotion, and that's where I would like to think that our creativity and strategy is an added value and vice versa," said Droga. "It may have the best publicity there is, but if e-commerce is not good or the relationship with the client and the experience is not excellent, then that is irrelevant."

Mr. Droga and Mr. Whipple said the acquisition talks began a year ago, using the code name "Stellwagen" for the agreement, a reference to a marine sanctuary. (Mr. Whipple is an avid fisherman). Accenture said he would share more about the internal structure that involves Mr. Droga, his executives and Mr. Whipple by the end of May.

Analysts and investors have increasingly raised questions with large advertising companies about the threat posed by consulting firms. In recent months, executives of WPP and IPG acknowledged their presence, but noted that companies were not yet big competitors in the creative field.

"They have not made the investment in creativity that we believe is necessary to compete," said Frank Mergenthaler, IPG's financial director, at a conference last month. "They are buying small agencies in some markets, so they can place a deck that has a capacity, but we are not seeing them much and we are not seeing them at scale."

Mr. Whipple said he saw Accenture Interactive's work in the customer experience as a new category, and that the company is more likely to partner with the holding companies that compete with them. However, those badociations may happen less frequently with the acquisition of Drug5, he said.

Other prominent independent agencies have remained steadfast in maintaining their autonomy. In 2017, Wieden & Kennedy, the agency in Portland, Ore., Best known for its work with Nike, backed a new agency in Austin on the condition that it must also remain independent. Colleen DeCourcy, the firm's co-chairman, said at the time: "All our abhorrence for controlling interest in anything is that you lose your independence to put work first."

Mr. Whipple rejected the idea that consultants do not understand creativity as traditional agencies do, saying that Accenture Interactive and Drug5 cultures were more similar than people might expect.

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