Accenture is launching what it’s calling the company’s biggest brand change in a decade, aided by a $90 million annual media budget that’s triple the normal spend.
The campaign, titled “Let There Be Change,” was developed by creative agency Droga5, which Accenture acquired last year. The campaign was developed alongside a new strategy, as well as a new purpose “to deliver on the promise of technology and human ingenuity.”
“As you think about what’s happening with speed, just in January we thought transforming the enterprises would take a decade,” says Accenture CEO Julie Sweet. “Now we believe it’ll take five years. So we have this huge opportunity as everyone is re-imagining everything—you’re rebuilding industries, you’re rebuilding economies—to do it with a responsible business by design.”
According to Sweet, who became CEO in 2019, the company started working on the campaign a year ago when it began updating its strategy from 2014 that sought to pivot the business to become 70% focused on digital, cloud and security by 2020. (The company hit that target a few weeks ago.)
The campaign strategy is also a way of stress-testing the new five-year plan during the pandemic. Sweet recalled putting a new growth model in place on March 1, along with a 40-person leadership team that’s twice the size of the previous one. The change has led to more inclusive and less hierarchical leadership that, she says, “was a theory 12 months ago” but has helped the company move faster than before.
“I’m talking to a lot of CEOs right now who are saying we want to act with the speed we acted with in the crisis,” she says. “And I always ask a simple question: ‘What have you changed?’ And you have to institutionalize speed, and strategy is the same thing.”
According to CMO Amy Fuller, many of Accenture’s clients say the main issue they’ve faced this year has been dealing with perpetual change.
“The clients needs we saw before the pandemic,” Fuller says. “So I’m not sure if the direction would have been different, but it became far more urgent.”
The scope of the brand changes are quite an undertaking. Along with rebranding 800 offices worldwide, Accenture had to update 473 pages of its website across 53 countries in 10 languages along with another 100 internal websites and applications. And in terms of paid media, Accenture plans to run its first synchronous international broadcast TV campaign along with 40 paid media partnerships and programmatic ads across 1,000 websites and more than 100 social accounts across four platforms. Along with its 30-second anthem spot, the campaign also includes ads focused on cloud services, sustainability and security—three areas that Accenture is focused on with its new strategy.
“We wanted to sort of make people realize that change comes in all shapes and sizes, from the seismic to the incremental,” says Droga5 Founder and Chairman David Droga.
Accenture has also been actively buying up other companies during the pandemic. After spending $1.5 billion on acquisitions during the last fiscal year, Sweet says it has spent $1 billion on acquiring more than a dozen companies globally during the pandemic. In September, it acquired Atlanta-based N3 to drive sales in virtual environments, and earlier this month, it also acquired Ottawa-based consultancy Avenai to expand its public sector work in Canada. Other acquisitions since March have included companies focused on logistics, digital commerce, cloud software services and artificial intelligence. Accenture also recently announced plans to invest $3 billion over the next three years to help clients develop “cloud first” businesses.
Accenture’s pandemic-era activity hasn’t been all positive. In August, the company announced plans to lay off around 25,000 employees, or about 5% of its global workforce of 500,000. However, the company has continued to beat its earnings estimates, and in the second half of the fiscal year, the company grew market share at four times the market average.
“We actually met or exceeded our original guidance from 12 months ago,” Sweet says. “Just think about that: despite Covid, we still landed in the guidance we gave pre-Covid 12 months ago, and on top of that many of our competitors did not give guidance. I gave guidance nine days after the pandemic was declared and we hit that guidance. I gave it to Q4 and we were within that guidance.”