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Bain & Co. is the latest consultancy to set its sights on advertising, and says its marketing practice is growing by double digits every year

Summary List Placement While Accenture and Deloitte have become increasingly entrenched in the advertising business, another consulting giant has been circling the ad industry.  Bain & Co. has been building out its advertising services in recent years, and says its marketing practice's revenue has grown double-digits every year for the past...

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Summary List Placement

While Accenture and Deloitte have become increasingly entrenched in the advertising business, another consulting giant has been circling the ad industry. 

Bain & Co. has been building out its advertising services in recent years, and says its marketing practice’s revenue has grown double-digits every year for the past five years.

Marketers have been prioritizing data-driven marketing over flashy, traditional ads, and Bain’s pitch is that it can grow brands’ business by helping with their marketing and customer relationships.

“Marketing has evolved from the ‘Mad Men’ era and become more data-driven and more consumer-centric,” said Laura Beaudin, a Bain partner and head of its marketing practice. “That ties in perfectly with some of the capabilities that we already had, where we have the data to back up the decisions that companies make about their marketing.”

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As part of this push, Bain acquired Minneapolis-based digital agency FRWD in mid-2018 and data analytics firm Pyxis in late 2019 to help clients get more data-centric, said John Grudnowski, partner at Bain and head of FRWD.

Bain has also hired marketing vets like Brian Dennehy, the former CMO of Nordstrom and Silicon Valley Bank; former Walmart ad executive Nikhil Raj; Sharona Sankar-King, formerly of BBDO and MEC; and most recently, Christine Removille, a former executive at ad holding companies Publicis and Dentsu.

Bain helps clients with strategy and transformation while FRWD handles the data activation, marketing technology and analytics and insights. The firm claims it can help improve clients’ marketing ROI by up to 25% and save them up to 15% in costs.

Bain needs to catch up to other consulting firms if it wants to make a big play for advertising services, though, say experts like Greg Paull, co-founder and principal at consultancy R3.

And as companies try to make their businesses more digital, competitors such as Cognizant, Capgemini and even the ad holding groups like WPP, Omnicom, and Publicis are making inroads in this area, said independent media analyst Alex DeGroote.

But Bain says it isn’t trying to replace their CMOs or replicate agencies’ creative services as other consulting firms like Accenture Interactive and Deloitte Digital have.

Bain says it’s trying to complement rather than compete with ad agencies, and cited a computer vision company called Hive.AI that it’s working with to develop a measurement product for linear TV.

“We are not going head to head with creative shops, because we don’t want to be an ongoing agency of record for our clients,” said Beaudin. “We want to build up their capabilities so they can sustain that on their own.”

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