Accenture Interactive co-founder: Experience is the battleground for marketers

Lindsay Bennett
By Lindsay Bennett | 13 November 2018
Baiju Shah

Many would be surprised to learn that Accenture Interactive is more than 10 years old. The digital juggernaut was formed in response to marketers expressing concern that their agency partners weren’t keeping up with the rapid pace of digitisation co-founder Baiju Shah told AdNews.

Some of those concerns still exist, Shah said, but now marketers are most concerned with a new battleground: experience.

Formed a decade ago, Accenture Interactive had no intention of being a traditional advertising agency. Instead, it saw that marketers could tap into the idea of customer experience rather than just advertising as a standalone channel.

“Our belief, from the onset of the business, was that brands in the future would be built by experience, not just by advertising,” he said.

“Brands are at the core and the brand is a promise to the market, but the total experience is where that promise is or is not realised.”

In the last five years, the ad industry has caught onto the idea of customer experience (CX) and a slate of new offerings have popped up in Australia; Lavender rebranded as CX Lavender, The Royals opened a CX division, MercerBell started referring to itself as a CX agency and most recently, KPMG acquired CX agency UDKU.

Shah argued Accenture Interactive was ahead of the game and born free from the constraints of a legacy business model, unlike some of the holding company-owned agencies.

“While some organisations are struggling to break down the siloes in their teams, we were designed from the outset to have those disciplines come together,” he said.

“There is quite a bit of transformation in the industry. The biggest difference is we are focused on the experience proposition to deliver business outcomes – not just marketing outcomes.

“To do that we have to have a broader proposition to control and influence wider outcomes. That’s why clients are willing to work with us over smaller players.”

With recent local acquisitions such as Fjord and The Monkeys, as well as other global moves, Shah said Accenture Interactive has been able to add to its portfolio in a bid to keep up with marketer’s demands.

These agency acquisitions have helped Accenture Interactive build a stronger reputation within adland and become the experience agency of record for clients in other marketers, such as Maserati - something the digital business is keen to do in Australia.

“Our promise to the market is around experience and with certain clients, we are known as experience agency of record, which is a new category that we’re bringing,” Shah said.

The idea that the primacy of marketing is shifting from advertising to experience aligns with Accenture Interactive’s efforts in elevating the chief marketing officer to the boardroom table and refocusing their objectives from marketing outcomes to business outcomes.

Clients that have transitioned to this experience approach are experiencing exponential growth, Shah said.

“The agency versus consultancy is a popular narrative, but we are more concerned with what brands need to do to be relevant in the future. For that, they need a contemporary partner that can really manage the whole CX offering from setting the brand promise to realising it across channels,” he said.

“You need things beyond what traditional players have.”

Rather than agencies as competitors, Shah said Accenture Interactive identifies its biggest rival as fear.

“Fear can immobilise. A lot of the work we do is break through the confidence chasm and then get the brand back on a trajectory of growth and relevance,” he said.

As for future agency acquisitions, Accenture Interactive is tipped to make its next big move in the US market with it already purchasing agencies in the UK and Australia. It was rumoured to have been looking at Droga5 as well as other independents in the market.

Shah was unable to comment on specifics, but said the business would continue to invest in growth areas, such as marketing operations.

Have something to say on this? Share your views in the comments section below. Or if you have a news story or tip-off, drop us a line at

Sign up to the AdNews newsletter, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter for breaking stories and campaigns throughout the day.

comments powered by Disqus