Deloitte is the latest consulting giant to interrupt the agency landscape with its acquisition of Seattle-based digital shop Banyan Branch. The company's Deloitte Digital group will completely absorb the Banyan brand, as well as its 50 employees.
The move is in line with parent Deloitte's strategy to add "a full suite of digital marketing services" to its existing business and technology services and capabilities, according to a statement. And while companies like Deloitte typically have cultivated relationships with chief information and chief technology officers, the acquisition brings the consulting giant one step closer to the chief marketing officer at a time when the three C-suite roles are starting to blend.
"Social analytics give CMOs and business leaders the power to navigate huge amounts of data to identify market influencers," said Mike Brinker, U.S. leader for Deloitte Digital and principal of Deloitte Consulting, in a statement. "With Banyan Branch's strong record of helping brands make sense of it all, we will bring actionable insights to our clients so they can genuinely connect with their audience."
Mr. Brinker told Ad Age that the company will continue to invest heavily in agency capabilities. Currently, at least one-third of Deloitte Digital's business comes from new-business pitches and relationships outside of parent Deloitte.
"We do compete hundreds of times a year with agencies," he said. "It spans equally agencies moving into our space and other consultancies that are also evolving like we are. The lines are blurring considerably."
Deloitte in January 2012 bought Ubermind, a Seattle-based mobile agency with about 200 employees. Months later, the company launched Deloitte Digital. At the time, it was positioned as a shop that could handle strategy, creative, user experience, engineering and implementation services for marketers in digital channels.
By the end of 2012, Deloitte Digital ranked 24 on Ad Age's list of the 50 largest U.S. Digital Agencies in 2012, with U.S. revenue of about $110 million. More recently, the group has appeared in a number of digital agency reviews.
Deloitte began exploring the space through a joint venture with WPP in 2000. The product was a U.S. digital venture, Roundarch, led by two veterans of Deloitte's Customer Relationship Management and e-Business practices. A Roundarch management group bought back the agency in 2005; Aegis Group purchased Roundarch in 2012; Dentsu Inc. acquired Aegis Group in 2013.
With its newest acquisition, Deloitte has mapped out a strategy similar to that of its competitors. This past May, Accenture acquired London-based design firm Fjord, and in October 2012, the company acquired digital-production-services firm AvVenta. It launched Accenture Interactive in 2009 with flagship client Procter & Gamble.
Banyan employees will now be grouped with 20-30 Deloitte Digital employees already focused on social. The small shop currently lists Asics, Amazon.com and Disney, among others, as clients on its website. Recently, Intel hired digital agency Banyan Branch to maintain HTML5 Hub, an online community interested in web publishing, and seek partnerships with publishers interested in incorporating HTML5 into feature packages.
Deloitte Consulting and its Deloitte Digital operation are part of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, a global group of firms providing audit, consulting, financial advisory, risk management and tax services.
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