The Ad Industry Weighs In on How the Accenture Deal Might Affect Droga5’s Culture

Optimism meets caution

Droga5 and Accenture logos
How will Accenture Interactive and Droga5's cultures work together.
Sources: Droga5, Accenture

For the last 13 years, Droga5 remained steadfastly independent, creating groundbreaking work with swagger, and eyebrows were raised when news emerged that Accenture Interactive had acquired the shop founded by its talisman, David Droga.

On paper, the deal makes sense in many ways. Accenture hasn’t been shy in its ambition to marry its deep brand relationships with creativity delivered through its purchase of some of the hotter independent agencies like Karmarama, Rothco and The Monkeys. But Droga5 is a different kind of beast altogether—an iconic agency brand which could signal the next phase of where consultancies, and independent agencies, might be headed.

A nagging issue is not necessarily the deal itself, but rather how Droga5’s culture may, or may not, change.

“It’s a big shame that we’ve lost another independent,” said Dave Buonaguidi, former Karmarama CCO and founder, and co-founder of current London agency UNLTD-INC. “Independence is what makes it interesting … it changes and challenges and creates progress. You know what works and what doesn’t, and it’s driven primarily by data, and the role of the independent creative agency has become minimized. I don’t even know what its role is anymore.”

Droga and Accenture Interactive CEO Brian Whipple insist that things should coalesce well culturally.

“When you have like-minded people who want to build something together, then you have some shared values,” noted Droga. “If we were being acquired by a holding company that wanted to squeeze us for efficiencies, that’s not a cultural identity we want to be part of.”

To that end, we asked the broader advertising industry for their thoughts on not just the Accenture/Droga deal, but what it could mean for the agency’s culture and the future of independence.

John Harris, CEO, Worldwide Partners Inc.
Although not [Accenture’s] first creative agency acquisition, Droga5 is at an entirely different level. They are sending a serious message to the industry. If we have learned anything from the holding companies and decades of agency acquisitions, creating a common brand name, a global leadership team and a consolidated P&L provide nothing more than a framework for the financial management of these organizations.

Collaboration falls victim to fiefdoms, as internal stakeholders fight for money and control. If the goals, values, incentives and people are not aligned, this acquisition will represent a mere line item on Accenture’s 2020 annual report vs. Adweek’s next big headline.

Shannon Simpson-Jones, co-founder, Verb
The dialogue around mergers and acquisitions has typically centered on whether agencies should prioritize data or creative expansion. Ultimately, the answer is both.

Creative should always be driven by insight, but there’s an art to balancing qualitative and quantitative work. These consultancies have successfully positioned themselves being by about the numbers. I wouldn’t be surprised if super agencies began to form as these mergers make companies capable of taking on massive amounts of data.

Jeff King, CEO, Barkley
We believe there is tremendous value in the creative power of independent agencies. Clearly, Accenture sees it as well.

Caley Cantrell, strategy chair, VCU Brandcenter
The people at Droga5 who have come up with terrific campaigns, didn’t lose their brainpower or creativity as a result of the acquisition. At the end of the day, the outcome is the same: clients will continue to pay for the intellectual property—the campaigns and brands—created by an agency, regardless of an acquisition.

Angela Zepeda, svp, managing director, Innocean USA
While Accenture has been purchasing other creative shops, this purchase seems to put punctuation on their seriousness to compete more squarely with creative agencies.

Company culture, especially at creative agencies, is the blood that pumps through an agency. So far, even with their other creative agency acquisitions, Accenture is still primarily seen as a consultancy. Time will tell if purchasing Droga5 will change that perception and change the future course of Accenture.

Recommended articles