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World of Service Providers, September 2015

Each month, we put together a topical list of new & noteworthy happenings in the world of Service Providers. Look for information about digital agencies, creative shops, systems integrators, consulting firms, and everything in between. Here’s what’s been happening in the World of Service Providers – and why it matters –  for the month of September, 2015:

1. Partnerships

The advent of creative is upon us, again. Many technology-focused firms, such as Accenture and Deloitte, are filling gaps in creative content. Traditionally strong on the consulting and technology side, they came up short in creative and marketing services. In addition to the creation of Accenture Interactive and Deloitte Digital a few years ago, both agency-type installments nestled under their respective parent companies, recent acquisitions augment each organization’s creative services.

In July 2015, Accenture acquired Chaotic Moon, an Austin-based technology company that creates content and user experiences for brands. Accenture Interactive also announced at the end of July that it would be investing $200 million to build and strengthen design capabilities. In June 2015, Deloitte Digital hired former Sapient executive Alex Shulman to act as the director of content marketing and creative experience, based in New York. The company has also made several other acquisitions over the past two years, including a Swedish digital agency, Mobiento; a user experience firm, Flow Interactive; digital marketing services firm Banyan Branch; and the mobile-focused company, Ubermind.

These moves to focus further on creative are strategic, and not wholly unexpected. In the past two years, we have noted the trend of technology-focused firms, small and large, moving to offer a more full-service experience for clients. This naturally includes offerings outside the realm of technology, such as marketing, creative, and strategic services. Marrying digital with creative is a smart way to attract new business and provide a more comprehensive experience for clients, leading to long-term relationships. As Interpublic Chief Executive Michael Roth recently stated in an interview with CMO Today, “in the end, creativity makes it all come together and really is the secret sauce to what we do.” Adding creative to an already powerful portfolio like those of Accenture and Deloitte is a smart move, and one that is long overdue. With small and mid-sized agencies increasingly offering end-to-end services for clients, the creative gap in big consultancy firms has been glaringly obvious.


2. New Ventures

Sid Lee, a Canadian-based creative firm, was recently acquired by Hakuhodo DY Holdings, a Japanese holding company of PR, advertising, and communications firms. Hakuhodo is the second largest agency group in Asia (second only to Dentsu Aegis), and aims to become more global through the KYU Collective, launched in May 2014. The collective’s mission is to continually enhance specialization and innovation in the Hakuhodo DY Group. It is led by former Omnicon Group vice chairman Michael Birkin. In addition to Sid Lee, the Collective acquired Digital Kitchen in June 2015, as well as marketing services firm Red Peak Group, and brand consultancy SY Partners in May 2014.

Part of KYU’s strategy is to help Hakuhodo DY Holdings to compete by expanding its presence in “specialized companies to compete in an increasingly complex ad landscape.” The move comes as other large networks, including WPP, Omnicom, Dentsu Aegis, and others continue to pursue aggressive acquisition strategies of their own. WPP’s Group M, for example, recently acquired several new agencies: Chemistry Media (based in New Zealand); Green House Group (based in the Netherlands); and directComm Marketing Group (based in Turkey). Their stated strategy is to raise their presence in fast growing and important markets, increasing digital capabilities, and continuing to offer an extensive global network as a leading global media investment management group.

These ventures illustrate the shifting landscape of service providers. Global companies want to deliver great global customer experiences. Participating in this opportunity was enticing enough for Sid Lee to join KYU in order to expand more effectively into Asia, as one executive from the company told us. Being part of an integrated network affords many benefits to clients and prospects – economies of scale, local presence in key markets (which of itself brings cultural advantages, language capabilities, etc.) and worldwide scope. Some brand organizations require a truly global digital agency as a partner. But enterprises who play in local or regional markets should think twice before working with a large global conglomerate. These relationships come with higher price tags, and unless there are excellent communication and collaboration processes in place, brands don’t always get the stated benefits of agencies with an increased global presence.  These considerations should not be overlooked when choosing a partner, but instead weighed as part of the organization’s overall strategy.


3. Brand Insights

Brands are learning that mastering the social conversation takes more than a half-hearted try. Here’s a quick round-up of companies working in tandem with creative service providers who are leveraging a network of influencers to amplify brand messaging as part of their social strategies, and catching our attention in the wake.

Weight Watchers: The weight loss company is continuing to participate in the body image discussion. As some social channels start to ban side-by-side before and after body image photos (such as facebook), a unique challenge has been created for Weight Watchers. Instead of its classic side-by-side photo marketing campaigns, Weight Watchers has had to adapt its strategy on various social channels to include other tactics. In particular, the brand has seen considerable success on Instagram, where there is a strong community of users who share pictures of their progress and food inspirations, using hashtags such as #WWcommunity and #WWfamily. Encouraging user-generated content, Weight Watchers in turn rewards users with “social currency” by sharing their progress, and participating in a process in which dedicated users are already sharing their success stories. The campaign is run by Vice President of Digital and Social at Weight Watchers, Lee Hurley.

Domino’s: After the successful revamping of online ordering, Domino’s has since taken things a step further: want to order a pizza? All it takes is a simple pizza emoji, not even words are required. The campaign is driven by Domino’s creative agency Crispin Porter + Bogusky. Customers have to sign up with the company first, of course, but the real win here is Domino’s ability to capitalize on the popularity of emojis on social channels to further expand the success of its digital business. In addition to entering conversations with other big brands, such as JC Penney, the company also tweeted hundreds of users – all in pizza emoji speak.

WWF: World Wildlife Fund, the leading organization in wildlife conservation and endangered species, started a campaign this year promoting the use of Endangered Emojis. The social-based fundraiser was created in conjunction with Wieden Kennedy London. Each time an ‘Endangered Emoji’ is retweeted, a 0.10 euro donation is added to the individual’s account. Since its launch in May 2015, the campaign has sparked 559,000 mentions and 59,000 signups, By engaging two key influencers – a Banksy fan account (1.8 million followers) and Formula One driver Jenson Button (two million followers)  – WWF was able to capitalize on its social clout and garner international attention. While the WWF is not releasing the amount of money it has so far collected from the campaign, it has had success in creating awareness by engaging the WWF’s target audience in a way that was both popular and functional – emjois for donations.



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