It’s official: We can no longer say consultancies are independent

Following the onslaught of creative agencies being bought out by consultancies, independent advice is a lot harder to come by, writes Anne Miles.

Many of the big consultancy firms built a solid reputation on business consulting and providing independent advice that brands all over the world trusted.

The integrity of the model was the fact that there was no vested interest in their recommendations and it felt like the brand’s best interest was top of mind.

Now with the major consultancies buying up creative companies and able to deliver creative services end to end (want ‘fries with that?’), we can no longer say that this model retains that independence and authentic advice, without any hint of vested interest in it.

No party that has a vested interest in any solution can say that they retain genuine independence any more, and this will only impact the brands they serve. Well-meaning as the advice may be, it can never be without a hint of bias.

Deloitte announced internal hires of former McCann-Erickson creatives recently. PwC announced the purchase of a share in creative shop Thinkerbell, and Accenture bought into Sydney creative agency The Monkeys.

The Monkeys

KPMG has acquired a research and strategic company and continues to expand its internal creative department.

The current shifts in the industry mean this is simply a new model advertising agency – no longer the independent consultancies based on what made them successful in the first place.

There is plenty of room for everyone in the industry, but let’s be sure we are naming a spade a spade. If anyone is wanting independent marketing and advertising strategy (and really what they deserve and need), then let’s be sure that’s what they get.

Test number one should be asking the question: “Is there any vested interest behind these recommendations?”

I can pretty much say that this leaves a very select few that will be providing genuinely independent solutions with the brand’s sole best interest in mind.

As I keep saying… brands deserve better.

Anne Miles is managing director of International Creative Services. 


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