After recently acquiring San Francisco creative shop Heat, Deloitte Digital plans to show off its new "creative digital consultancy" to marketers at South by Southwest Interactive next week.
"It's a magnet for digital creative and innovators, and that's where we're sitting with what we're doing," said Alicia Hatch, Deloitte Digital's CMO, who has been attending SXSW for 15 years.
Dubbed the "Interplay Lab," Deloitte Digital's SXSW activation at the Palm Door in downtown Austin, Texas, is going to be an experiment with music and technology. Musicians including Vampire Weekend's Chris Baio, André Anjos from RAC and Brad Oberhofer from indie band Oberhofer are slated to perform while attendees interact with an art installation made from 20 speakers and 12,000 LED lights. The activation will also include free Doppler wireless earbuds.
The creative twist on music isn't just for show, though. According to Hatch, SXSW is also where Deloitte will start pitching marketers on its new model, one that meshes digital consultancy and creative chops.
"Some of our competitors have acquired creative shops, but it's more about building digital shops," Hatch said. "This is going out with this new model this year, and SXSW will be our first platform as an answer for what the industry continues to talk about."
Over the past few years, Deloitte has acquired roughly 12 agencies, including mobile shop Ubermind in 2012 and Swedish agency Mobiento last year. While those acquisitions armed the company with the tools to build a digital practice, Heat was clearly a play for creative expertise.
"For so long, creative has been considered just a part of the marketing budget," Hatch said. "But with all this disruption, creativity is what is driving a lot of the new ways of thinking."
To Hatch's point, consultancies like IBM, PwC and Accenture are also aggressively snapping up shops and marketing service companies to go head-to-head with traditional and digital agencies.
IBM, for example, has bought three companies this year: Resource/Ammirati, Aperto and ecx.io. It also signed a deal to acquire The Weather Company's digital properties. Accenture has also made a handful of notable acquisitions in recent years, including Brazilian agency Ad.Dialeto in August and e-commerce focused Aquity Group in 2013.
According to Hatch, the moves by Deloitte Digital's competitors don't address concerns on the part of marketers like Pepsi's Brad Jakeman that agencies are failing to keep up with the speed of change.
Asked if Deloitte Digital can compete with traditional agencies within holding companies, Hatch said, "Yes, I would say it's competitive, and we'll be a hit on some level to the agency and holding company world for consultants to have those services."
"We're calling it creative digital consultancy because it's not just about agency services and doing consultancy separately—it's bringing those two together," she said.