Deloitte Digital acquires Swedish creative consultancy Acne Agency

18 August 2017 4 min. read
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Leading Swedish creative organisation Acne Agency has been snapped by Deloitte Digital, as the demand for a holistic technology, consulting and creative solution in response to dynamic market changes continues to drive consulting firms to expand their design solution offerings. The agency has worked with clients including IKEA, H&M and Spotify.

Growing competition within the advertising sphere has led to growing revenues in recent years amid a glut of new start-up agencies, as customer journeys become an ever more important way for brands to differentiate themselves as well as meet cross-channel consumer expectations. Technological developments, including big data, analytics as well as whole new channels through which companies can engage with customers and provide meaningful experiences, have brought with them significant quantitative challenges to the traditionally creative market.

Increasingly this has led to consulting firms looking to the acquisition of design and marketing firms in order to provide complete, tailored solutions for clients looking to overhaul their company and engage with customers more directly.

Deloitte Digital acquires Swedish creative consultancy Acne Agency

While access to this booming market is predominantly the motive behind the consulting industry breaking into the sector, the analytical capacity of firms like BCG, Accenture and McKinsey enable their newly acquired design arms, usually comprising of start-ups, to demonstrate to clients the value of their work – something increasingly important when justifying their pricing in a competitive market.

Big Four professional services firm Deloitte are no different in this respect, having built an expanding design services offering in the form of Deloitte Digital. The label has acquired a number of creative agencies, most recently including Market Gravity and HEAT, which as a subsidiary of Deloitte Digital expanded into a new office in New York in 2016.

Now, Deloitte Digital has completed further expansion of its capacity, having acquired Stockholm-based creative agency Acne for an undisclosed fee. According to Deloitte figures, Acne brought in roughly $32 million in revenue in their most recent fiscal year. The Swedish firm was founded in 1996, working with notable clients including IKEA, Spotify and H&M since then. The creative agency gained attention in the summer of 2017 for creating a humorous ad for the Swedish home-furnishing retailer, which referenced luxury brand Balenciaga making a $2,145 version of IKEA’s iconic blue reusable bags.

"The perfect match"

Acne Executive Chairman Victor Press claimed the agency had been approached “by a number of actors” over the years, but “found the match was perfect” with Deloitte, which will help bring more technology and data analysis to its creative capabilities and grow the agency into new markets. As it is clear from Press’ statement, Deloitte is not alone in its efforts to enter the design marketplace. Management consulting firms, which once primarily worked with chief executives and chief information officers, are increasingly making agency acquisitions and encroaching on a space.

According to the most recent data from Ad Age’s (based on 2016 revenues), PwC, Accenture Interactive, IBM and Deloitte Digital make up four of the top 10 biggest providers of advertising services in the world. The majority of the agency acquisitions made by consulting companies to date have been relatively small, despite most of them having the financial clout to buy far bigger firms. Instead, consultancies have favoured purchasing new, innovative market disruptors, with new or flexible working methods – McKinsey’s obtaining of fellow Swedish firm Veryday in late 2016 being exemplary of this.

Deloitte Digital now plans to hire around 80 new employees across North West Europe, with 40 of those based in the UK, doubling the size of Acne’s current team who will remain after the deal. Deloitte Digital has also appointed one of Havas London’s former executive creative directors, Andy Sandoz, as a partner and chief creative officer to lead Deloitte’s creative services in the UK.

Sandoz left Havas in April, splitting with Ben Mooge, his creative partner of nine year, as Mooge stayed at Havas as the sole executive creative director.

On his new role at Deloitte, Sandoz said, "I believe creativity is more commercially and socially impactful when applied to the whole business, beyond just marketing. My best work-to-date has been using ideas backed by new technologies to help redefine my clients’ businesses for a better future. With Deloitte Digital we have the ability, credibility and access to totally transform a business. I was impressed with the consultancy’s senior relationships and depth of expertise across multiple industries, our strong cultural fit and shared positive vision."