The Great Debate: Agencies or Consultancies?

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Deloitte Digital + Heat

Everyone agrees that digital has disrupted the traditional agency model, yet many disagree on what the industry future will look like and how digital marketing services will be delivered to brands. One view, held by many agency holding companies, is that creativity is still the “secret marketing sauce,” regardless of whether it is an analog or digital world. Many consulting firms, however, see a future where agencies are replaced by strategic implementation that combines in-depth business tactics with technology innovation and creative execution. But can consultancies do great creative? There’s a pervasive stigma that they can’t – that consultants aren’t creative. We’re proving them wrong.

A new model

A brand is the culmination of hundreds of tiny decisions – decisions that typically span across dozens of business functions and several partners and providers. So why should brands limit their infinite potential to the finite capabilities of a single consultancy or digital, social, or advertising agency?  

They shouldn’t. And that’s where we come in. This year, full-service advertising agency Heat joined forces with Deloitte Digital. Together, we form a brand-new model – the creative digital consultancy. We combine leading digital and creative capabilities with deep industry knowledge, innovative human-centered design, business strategy, and technology know-how. Providing end-to-end services allows our clients to imagine bigger and realize even their most far-reaching ambitions at scale.

A new era for marketing

The digital era requires more than the big idea or the creative campaign. It’s about executing the big idea through every part of the organization and out into the market. It’s about driving campaigns across all customer touch points and into the hearts and minds of every employee. It’s about a business result and the data to prove it—delivering on high-level strategy needs, as well as traditional creative, all the way to campaign analytics.

In the digital era, consumers are constantly bombarded with uninspiring, ineffective advertising, making it harder than ever to capture and keep their attention. Advertising recall has been in steady decline1 despite an increase in companies’ media spend. The challenge as marketers is to program content that finds the needs of consumers. The future of marketing belongs to companies that use data to describe the market better than their competitors, and who can react to that data more quickly. Being able to develop authentic connections to consumers through dynamic advertising, whether its digital, traditional or experiential, with the support of informed data and strategic insights can help a brand win the race for relevance.

Creative execution powered by business insight

Our creative digital consultancy model combines the use of data to answer business problems with creative execution powered by these insights. Together, Deloitte Digital and Heat create and implement more strategically driven creative solutions infused with technology capabilities, business acumen, and industry knowledge. This union enables the delivery of comprehensive end-to-end offerings to help clients fully reimagine their business and customer experience. We come up with a brand idea, then nurture that idea into a company’s culture, creatively manifesting it everywhere—transforming the company internally into a reflection of that brand, then moving focus to outside communications, engagements, and experiences.

Marketers and C-suite executives don’t care about the “agency vs. consultancy” conversation – they want solutions that work. Whether B2C or B2B, organizations need end-to-end services, and to work with partners who understand their entire business – not just the strategy, or the creative, or the technology. With Deloitte Digital + Heat, clients no longer have to work with multiple agencies and consulting firms – both creative and business strategy come from the same team. We believe this special blend of agency and consultancy strengths will change the way companies go to market forever.

Mark Singer, principal with Deloitte Digital, Deloitte Consulting LLP, and Mike Barrett, president of Heat, will participate in the panel “The Great Debate: Agencies vs. Consultancies,” 3:30 p.m., Monday, September 26, during Advertising Week in New York. Also on the panel are Suzanne Darmory, executive creative director at Zeta Interactive, and David Feldman, partner and global lead, Customer Marketing Platforms and Services at IBM. Josh Golden, publisher at Advertising Age, will moderate.

1Source: Brand Index, “Ad Awareness” (9/2016).

As used in this document, "Deloitte" means Deloitte Consulting LLP, a subsidiary of Deloitte LLP. Please see www.deloitte.com/us/about for a detailed description of the legal structure of Deloitte LLP and its subsidiaries. Certain services may not be available to attest clients under the rules and regulations of public accounting.

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