Accenture has acquired Karmarama, a London-based creative agency, in what is regarded as a dramatic move by a consulting firm to move into the advertising space. The deal sees Karmarama’s more than 250 employees transfer to Accenture Interactive, part of Accenture Digital, with key leadership remaining in place.
Karmarama is a UK-based creative design agency, focused on creating advertising campaigns, data-driven content and mobile platforms, among others, for its clients from a range of industries. The agency was founded in 2000, with a small team of four professionals, and has since grown, in part through backing from Phoenix Equity Partners in 2011, into a team of more than 260. Major clients to the agency include the BBC, Confused.com, Honda, Just Eat and Unilever.
Accenture’s acquisition of Karmarama boosts the firm’s presence in the increasingly strategically important design consultancy segment. The agency becomes a wider part of Accenture Digital, strengthening the ability of Accenture Interactive to provide and deliver integrated customer experiences to brands in the UK and internationally.
The deal, the value of which has not been disclosed, will see the agency’s key people, including Executive Chairman Jon Wilkins, CEO Ben Bilboul, CSO Sid McGrath and CCO Nik Studzinski remain in their positions, while taking on additional leadership responsibilities within Accenture Interactive for the regions of Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America (EALA) – focused on driving brand strategy and creativity.
Brian Whipple, head of Accenture Interactive, remarks on the deal, “Karmarama will become part of the world’s largest digital agency, expanding our global capabilities across experience, marketing, content and commerce with excellence in creative and mobile. This will contribute to further differentiate Accenture Interactive as a new breed of agency – experience architects – which helps brands connect disconnected experiences and shares accountability with clients for their business outcomes.”
The move will, according to Whipple, help set Accenture apart from competitors like IBM, Deloitte, and the services offered by advertising holding companies. "Now Accenture can help design customer experiences, build them, run them, and have an agency to lead on creative", he adds.
Accenture has been pushing strongly into the consulting – creative space in recent years; the firm was named by AdAge as the world’s biggest and fastest growing digital agency network in 2016, on the back of organic growth, as well as an aggressive M&A strategy. Among the most notable deals are the acquisitions of design agency Fjord in 2013, Chaotic Moon (US), PacificLink (Hong Kong), and, more recently, 2nd Road in Australia and IMJ Corporation in Japan.
Ben Bilboul, Karmarama's CEO says that the firm is “looking forward” to extending its creative ideas across the entire customer experience, offering clients consistent and connected creativity. He adds, “We believe this is a genuinely game-changing moment for clients and for our team, who will now have even greater opportunity to work with leading global brands across international markets.”
Deals in the consulting – design landscape
Competition in the landscape between consulting and creative services has been heating up of late. Examples of deals concluded in the past year include, among others, Deloitte Digital’s acquisition of Digital One (Poland); Synechron’s purchase of Usable (US); Deloitte’s purchase of Heat (US); the deal between Capgemini Consulting and Fahrenheit 212 (US) and IBM’s acquisition of Resource/Ammirati (US).