If Theseus changed his ship’s captain, would it still be the same ship?


As Deloitte’s Andy Main joins O&M as CEO, the agency versus consultancy discussion – that last gathered steam when Accenture acquired Droga5 in 2019 – resurfaces. An adman analyses the landscape actually, seascape.

So, the ageing ship stays fast, agile and really seaworthy.

But wouldn’t it still be Theseus’ ship, in any case the planks, and crew members are changed?

The answer, probably, lies in intent.

If the intent is to form creativity more relevant during a vastly more measurable world, then this infusion of consulting culture into advertising, and the other way around, may be a logical evolution.

On the one hand, there are consulting companies acquiring creative agencies, design shops, digital agencies, experience, and artistic tech specialists.

While on the opposite, agency networks are acquiring consulting firm hands, and reorganising their disciplines and offerings to raise reflect the requirements of the modern marketer.

The former indicates that companies are becoming serious about creativity in marketing, and consulting firms are rushing to fill that telling gap. They need the knowledge, but don’t know what to try and do with it.

The latter indicates that agencies are awakening to the urgency of serving up creativity in newer, more data-informed ways. They need the creativity, but not the knowledge to form it relevant.

Either way, creativity wins. The ship of Theseus continues to sail. Now enabled with GPS and real time course correction and fitted with automatic rudders. 

Traditionally, consulting firms and agencies have always been seen at the opposite ends of the spectrum of marketing services. But the new world of marketing shifts and therefore, the complexities of platforms now demand that both move towards the center of this spectrum.

Consulting companies adding creative firepower to their know-how and their proximity to the C-suite. Agencies adding an integrated, consulting framework to their creativity, and also winning back a number of the respect that’s eroded over time.

Blessed with business foresight, the consulting companies started the method by descending upon the French Riviera, in record numbers per annum, for the world’s biggest festival of creativity.

They would silently observe the advertising industry like an aspiring actor on the sidelines of an enormous ticket shoot. Soaking within the work, progressing to know the people behind the work, understanding the strange, and sometimes whimsical, workings of this forceful beast called creativity. Gradually moving closer to the huddles at the Gutter Bar.

Instinctively, the agency folks would move the closed-group huddle a touch. Then a touch more. Finally, there was no place left to try to do a closed group huddle, and they reluctantly began to mix with the all knowing, data wielding, torch bearers of transformation. Setting off a process of transformation that might change the advertising landscape forever.

Perfect orchestration is pure magic. It’s the marketing equivalent of a team of oarsmen ‘finding their swing’ in rowing. they assert once you find that swing, the boat goes faster even with an equivalent amount of effort being put in.

That’s the thought behind of these industry changes, isn’t it? Making creativity work sharper, more efficiently and better for our clients.


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