Major groups fight new rivals as agencies play away

KPMG invests 20m in Imperial unitFor most agency start-ups, the end game is getting a call from one of the big four marketing services groups – WPP, Publicis, Omnicom, although one from Havas is a little rarer – but competition is now coming from unexpected sources, including tech firms and even consultancy giants.
Two new deals reinforce the point, with Deloitte buying its eleventh agency, San Francisco’s Heat, and IBM buying Resource/Ammirati, one of the biggest independent digital shops in the US.
Meanwhile, KPMG has been making major strides in the data industry, and EY bought digital consultancy Seren. Accenture now owns service design company Fjord and PwC bought online analytics firm Logan Tod.
M&A firm Results International managing director Keith Hunt said: “The big consulting firms have historically been in the space with CTOs – and thanks to the increase in tech-enabled marketing activity CTOs and CMOs have come a lot closer together. Now there are enterprise-wide digital solutions rather than just for marketing or IT, and the consultants are building teams to reflect that.
“It’s a mixture of opportunity and threat: a very real opportunity for those companies that would be interested in being an acquisition target and a big threat to the major (marcoms) networks.
“The latter are going to find there are other organisations out there with very large headcounts, wide geographies and strong balance sheets that are muscling in on their territory.”

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