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Accenture’s big move for tech wizard Mackevision puts holding companies in the shade

A tale of two acquirers: WPP has just bought a Portuguese agency, BAR, to merge into Ogilvy. BAR has revenues of $2.5m.

Accenture has agreed to buy Mackevision, a Stuttgart-based producer of CGI and immersive content, best known for its work on hit TV epic Game of Thrones. Mackevision’s revenue in 2015/16 was €48m, double the year before.

Companies make acquisitions of various sizes of course, in adland often because the owners want to sell. In essence the aquirer is buying accounts (it hopes) and talent (ditto).

But Accenture’s reasons for buying Mackevision are intriguing. It says Mackevision will add “state-of-the-art visualisation capabilities to Accenture Interactive’s digital services portfolio – strengthening its ability to create compelling, next-generation customer experiences and industrial, extended reality applications.”

And so-called extended reality seems to be where the game is. Mackeson can, it says, generate nearly any type of visual content, turning engineering into product experiences and virtual applications – in effect copying anything it wants. Accenture says the extended reality market (XR) is forecast to be worth $162bn by 2020.

Accenture Interactive boss Brian Whipple says: “Mackevision’s capabilities will add a whole new dimension of content innovation to our portfolio of services. The ‘digital twin’ concept has massive implications not only from a scaled media production and marketing standpoint, but also for our broader vision of helping clients render the most compelling experiences possible.”

Mackevision, now a global business, has so far majored on car clients including Audi, BMW, Fiat Chrysler, Hyundai, Jaguar, Land Rover, Mercedes and Porsche.

We’ve noted before that Accenture seems to be building a giant, technology-enabled creative department and it’s easy to see how Mackevision fits into that vision. In this world advertising is just one of many ways of reaching customers.

Does this mean that Accenture and its consultancy rivals will not be riding to the rescue of shareholders in the big ad holding companies, preferring to cherry pick what they want from a much wider market?

Accenture has two and a half times as much revenue as WPP (the biggest of the ad holding companies), twice as many people and is valued at nearly six times as much. More to the point, perhaps, is that its tech-enabled products and services seem to be what the world’s biggest companies want.

Accenture (or Deloitte or PWC) could well buy an ad holding company. But it wouldn’t be a merger of equals.

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