One Year Inside 'The World’s Largest Tech Powered Creative Group'
Accenture Song's Bill Scott reflects on the group's first twelve months
30 May 2023
When Accenture Song launched a year ago - replacing Accenture Interactive and its agency brands, including Karmarama in the UK - there was so much fuss about the new name that the new global structure was a little overlooked.
It didn’t help that after all the fanfare, Accenture Song was - and to an extent remains - ill defined on the industry stage; even now its website is a subsection of Accenture and looks more like the platform of a consultancy than a vibrant creative network. "We Create Growth Through Relevance" the website explains; it gets worse from there.
Still, there's clearly no doubt that Accenture Song has the potential to represent the future of commercial creativity. Song was designed to bring together “post-pandemic world-class services that reinvent customer connections, sales, commerce and marketing and business innovation to meet clients’ accelerated demand for business growth through sustained customer relevance at the ever-changing speed of life” (phew). But public evidence of radical reinvention has so far been hard to spot.
The truth is that Song’s consolidation of over 40 individual - and in most cases very well respected - agency brands into a single operating unit plugged into a $60 billion consultancy and information technology company was a mammoth restructure. It's a dazzling power-play, though one that remains a work in progress. The biggest and best regarded of the old brands, Droga5, has retained its own identity whilst being integrated into the new structure, though it’s lost some key talent - particularly in the US - along the way. And all of the agencies have had to adapt to new systems and operating frameworks.
It’s true, too, that the obvious potency of harnessing the creativity of Song with the muscle of Accenture means staff at Song are now able to work in ways/at levels/with resources that are well beyond the comms-centric tasks of the old world order they had been used to. Therein lies the enormous opportunity of course, but it also means the obvious, old metrics of creative executions are no longer fully representative or entirely relevant when it comes to judging the breadth and impact of the new operation.
“The scale is so vast and we're actually building things from the ground up as opposed to just more the narrative side of things,” global CEO David Droga recently told Adage. “And that moves at a slower pace. And there are more decision makers, more people to bring along. So it's not as instant as what we are used to…[Droga5 employees are] involved in bigger deals with clients across Accenture and Song that don't have the normal bells and whistles, but their impact is greater.”
So twelve months on, the power of the wider proposition is taking shape. A new global CEO – the indomitable and hugely respected Annette King – is arriving in the autumn. King will sit alongside Droga, Nick Law (global head of design and creative technology at Accenture Song), Sean Lyons (global capabilities lead at Song), Kristen Kelly (Accenture Song global head of media) and James Temple (co-lead of the Metaverse Continuum Group) running the global proposition. It's a formidable bench of talent.
At a local level in the UK, a year of Accenture Song has seen the removal of the Karmarama name and the promotion of Zoe Eagle and Will Hodge as co-chiefs, replacing James Denton-Clark who has been appointed CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi. The agency also produced some lovely work for the United Nations’ partner Project Everyone, and told the story of the Lidl Bear for the supermarket’s Christmas spot.
Meanwhile over at Droga5 London billings were up over 50 per cent to £72m last year and work remained reliably first class, with strong creative campaigns for clients including Amazon, Vestiaire Collective and Barclaycard Business. If the full potential of Song has yet to be realised here, its introduction certainly hasn't held things back.
Droga5 London’s highly regarded chief executive Bill Scott was appointed managing director of Accenture Song UK and Ireland last Spring. We asked him to reflect on the first year of Accenture Song.
Accenture Song is one year old. How has the brand grown into its new name and developed its positioning in the market?
Bill Scott: The task to migrate from the legacy ‘Accenture Interactive’ brand, which comprised 40+ acquisition brands around the world, was a huge undertaking. We had to sunset legacy established agency brands, which were proven entities in their respective fields and markets - which inevitably was disruptive for their talent and clients.
But the journey has been a positive one and we’re now fully united behind Accenture Song – with our talent base and clients aligned to Accenture Song as one cohesive entity to market. Karmarama now sits under the Accenture Song brand. Accenture Interactive no longer exists.
What’s your role now?
I oversee Accenture Song’s total communications offerings in the UK & Ireland – across Song, Droga5 London & Droga5 Dublin – covering creative, social, CRM, digital activation and content production. My task is to combine our communications offerings with broader Song capabilities across design, data and intelligence, tech build and beyond. It’s an exciting brief.
How do you differentiate the two agency brands, Droga5 and Accenture Song? As a client how would I know which agency is right for me?
Each brand tends to attract a different client profile. Certain client businesses want the scale and multi-platform integration which is better suited to Song. Other clients prefer the micro network of Droga5. We can flex to client’s needs.
Beyond the two brands also giving us options for conflict, we can also mix & match the offerings. Often a Droga5 client can leverage the Song broader digital or production capabilities – which only serves to expand the creative remit. Sometimes global Song clients may want to engage Droga5 on a specific task. Having both doors to market just creates more flexibility to tailor to specific client needs.
Competition or collaboration: what’s the relationship dynamic between the two agencies?
We can only afford collaboration. We rarely appear on the same pitch lists and if we do, we back one or the other. It’s a zero-sum game to compete, internally or externally.
We have to be much more convergent on how we can support each other – in every respect. Song’s total offerings across design, digital products, commerce, marketing operations, production and data only serve to strengthen and differentiate Droga5 from being a traditional agency business.
How does AS (and D5, come to that) plug into the Accenture operation?
We position Accenture Song as ‘the world’s largest tech powered creative group’. Which is exactly what it is.
Across the broader Accenture stable, we have unrivalled access to tech platforms, partners, data intelligence, digital innovation, performance, global production at scale, e-commerce, content creation… the list goes on. And Accenture of course has a vast and established array of scaled client relationships.
Accenture Song is here to layer the power of creativity to transform customer value and experience - to drive growth through deeper customer relevance. Via one single P&L with the entire Accenture operation, as one combined offering, we are learning to appreciate that we really are in a market of one.
I like to say that Droga5 can effectively sit on the shoulders of Accenture Song, enabling Droga5 to service its clients across more surface area. We can access all of the end-to-end offerings that Song brings – from marketing function, commerce, performance, experience design, to media, scaled content, martec, industry expertise, data, growth and innovation.
Is the AS skill set fully rounded out now or are there still areas where you need to make tangible investments?
Our proposition is rounded. But the art of making it happen is a different matter. We need to get our story and offering to the market better understood – if we’re honest, Accenture Song is still a relatively unknown quantity to the market. We’re still on that education journey with our clients. What’s very rewarding and exciting though, is that when clients do appreciate what we can do, the sky’s the limit.
What’s been the biggest learning so far from the AS journey?
In all honesty, having been part of the Accenture family since 2019 through the Droga5 acquisition, I’m still learning the breadth and depth of what Accenture can do. If anything, I’m yet to see what they can’t do! The pace of innovation and embracing the new is remarkable.
And what are you proudest of?
The talent. It’s been a privilege getting to know and work with the broader creative community at Song. Within the UKI and beyond, we’ve developed a genuinely tight knit creative global community that is generous and collaborative, the likes of which I’ve never come across before. Feels great to be part of it.
There is a shared ambition to make a different type of work that only Song can bring to life. I’m hugely excited to be working with Zoe Eagle and Will Hodge as co-Chiefs of the Song creative agency in London, as well as bringing on the next generation of Droga5 leaders in Damien Le Castrec, Shelley Smoler and Heather Cuss. They’re an extremely talented cohort of leaders. And of course, we’re all hugely excited for Annette King’s forthcoming arrival, which is a massive coup and she’ll undoubtedly be a force of nature for us.
With the U.K. agencies successfully navigating succession management, what’s next on your agenda Bill?
Really driving and demonstrating the combined power of Song’s proposition to market. We’re restless (and if anything, a bit frustrated) to make more happen with our clients and more. But we’ve come a long one way in a year (the legacy brands were only sunsetted in July of last year)… and if feels like we’re on the precipice to something big. And Droga5 only stands to benefit from and capitalise on this momentum.