Accenture refutes conflict of interest claims over ING pitch

Pippa Chambers
By Pippa Chambers | 22 May 2017
Isla Fisher

Accenture has refuted there is a conflict of interest with ING Direct, despite having just selected UM as its global agency of record.

UM client ING Direct called a global review of its media planning and buying account in March with Accenture revealed as the firm running the pitch process. Locally the account is worth up to $12 million.

Three weeks later IPG Mediabrands-owned agency UM won the strategic media planning and buying duties, globally, for Accenture.

Industry murmurs soon surfaced about whether there was a conflict of interest in Accenture overseeing the pitch process. Other agencies also questioned the access Accenture had to pitch insights, given it is constantly increasing its footprint in the media and adversing space, particularly with its recent acquisition of The Monkeys.

Speaking to AdNews, an Accenture spokesperson says the Accenture Media Management group is part of the team in Accenture Operations that helps clients procure products and services across several categories.

Despite it not being very well-known in this market for running media pitches, it says it has been doing the work for a long time.

“Accenture professionals have been providing media pitch management services for more than a decade, however, our team does not select agencies for clients. Clients fully own the selection decision,” a spokesperson says.

“At the same time, Accenture Marketing and Communications has always worked with a large global media advertising agency for Accenture’s own corporate advertising and media strategy. These are two separate and distinct divisions of Accenture and we have the strictest policies and protocols in place to ensure complete business and client confidentiality.”

ING has no comment on the concerns.

Nielsen has its Australian media spend in the past 12 months as $9 million, although it's thought the figure could be between $10 million to $12 million with all of its digital spend included.

The ING Direct division is owned by Dutch multinational banking and financial services firm the ING Group and is listed on the New York Stock Exchange and the European stock exchange, Euronext.

Its creative account sits with VCCP, which created the well-known TV ads featuring Australian actor Isla Fisher.

In June 2015, ING Direct revealed it was overhauling its brand positioning, with a new campaign, tagline and a $10 million dollar budget to ensure it has got staying power. A year later it launched the next stage of its brand campaign, featuring customers.

It's thought the creative part of the business is not under review.

Also in March, Accenture Interactive revealed it intends to help clients bring their digital media buying in-house – a move that threatens to bypass an increasingly important and lucrative part of a media agency's role. See more here.

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