But, last week, Leagas Delaney announced the launch of an initiative that has generated some interest among rivals and perhaps shown that the agency is more sophisticated and strategic than many thought.
The alliance with Booz & Company is designed to offer chief executives and chief marketing officers the communications skills of Leagas Delaney combined with the management consultancy experience of Booz, particularly in the digital space. It mirrors a theme of the lines between management consultants and creative agencies becoming increasingly blurred.
For example, Accenture was hired by BMW in May to act as the lead consultancy in managing its digital marketing efforts. So, is Leagas Delaney merely responding to this perceived threat or showing that it can offer a greater strategic positioning to provide a point of differentiation between the agency and its larger network rivals?
Dylan Williams, partner,
"Nike Digital Sport opened in 2010. Its FuelBand has been out for two years. Its TechStars Accelerator programme, which mentors young entrepreneurs to better productise Nike+ APIs, is about to complete its first cycle. RGA has been talking about a Third Age of Functional Integration and chip-enabled loyalty for at least 18 months. Alex Bogusky discussed baking marketing back into product in 2009. So how digital technology might help brands and consumers forge more authentic, useful and fulfilling relationships directly through product experience is not really a question for the future. It’s kind of happening already."
James Murphy, chief executive, Adam & Eve/DDB
"This move makes a lot of sense for an agency of Leagas Delaney’s scale. It gets them tech and consulting clout quickly and in locations that make sense for its agency’s geography. It’s also a good way to open up new levels of dialogue with clients. This kind of extra dimension to the agency’s service can offer it a competitive advantage and, over the longer term, grow more profitable health for its brands. Bringing Adam & Eve and DDB together, we’ve seen the benefits of partnering with a brilliant creative tech business in Tribal DDB. While the commercial structure doesn’t mirror the Leagas/Booz agreement, the positive outcomes are similar."
Malcolm Poynton, chief creative officer, SapientNitro
"A traditional brand like Kodak doesn’t need a better ad. It needs a business strategy for a digital age. So it brings technology consultants to a place in which agencies seldom find themselves today – the boardroom. Yet consultancies know nothing about how to emotionally engage consumers. Consequently, we see WPP, and now Leagas Delaney, form alliances with consultancies. It’s clear that commerce and marketing technologies are headed for the remit of the chief marketing officer. Equally clear is that now is the time for a new breed of agency that understands both – not for consultancy-agency alliances that speak different languages."
Lisa Thomas, chief executive,
"What this joint venture highlights is that the ability to marry brand strategy with a deep understanding of data and technology is becoming increasingly important for clients. Most ad groups, including ours, already provide brand, data and digital consultancy, and we will continue to build in those areas. I am sure that management consultancies will continue to grow their creative services business, especially in digital. Despite this apparent convergence in services, ad agencies will always be different culturally from management consultancies. Our uniquely creative culture must be preserved and evolved, as it’s our biggest competitive advantage."