Founded in 1998, PacificLink Group comprises a set of digital agencies in Hong Kong: PacificLink iMedia, Pixo Punch, LemonXL, AvantBiz Consulting and DMA Solutions. These agency brands, as they possess differentiated propositions, will be retained after the acquisition. They employ a total of 240 professionals in Hong Kong.
The group’s credentials include services for design and usability, web development, digital marketing, social-media strategy and e-commerce for clients such as Adidas Hong Kong. It is expected to support Accenture Interactive's digital marketing operations teams in Dalian and Shanghai.
"We would like to leverage Accenture's presence in the China market in terms of both clients and technology, especially when digital is critical in doing O2O strategies in China," said Alvin Lam, founder and CEO of PacificLink.
The two companies are not uniting their physical offices at this point, but will pitch combined skillsets to clients in the Greater China region.
The acquisition significantly expands the ability of Accenture Interactive (whose pre-acquisition headcount in Greater China was around 200) to bring a blend of digital design, marketing, content and commerce capabilities to clients.
Accenture already has capabilities in content operations. What PacificLink brings to the table is the added ability to work on content management, content frameworks and content curation.
The expanded set of end-to-end services allows Accenture Interactive to be a more aligned one-stop shop, according to company officials.
Jason Chau, managing director of Accenture Interactive Greater China, said this integration addresses the needs of both CMOs and CIOs in Greater China as they strive to bridge the gap between marketing and digital technologies.
"This is top of mind for many of our local clients," Chau told Campaign Asia-Pacific. "Not all of them are quite there yet in bridging that gap. We saw them taking a fragmented approach where you have the CIO doing one thing and the CMO doing another."
In fact, there are other cooks in the C-suite apart from the CIO and the CMO.
"It doesn't rest with the CMO necessarily," said Patricio De Matteis, managing director of Accenture Interactive Asia Pacific in an exclusive interview. "It's an amalgamation of the CMO, CDO, CXO, in addition to the CIO or CTO. From an omnichannel perspective, a lot of brands are losing cohesiveness when they implement across different channels. It's important that all these conversations are linked together, and early."
Accenture Interactive believes it has an advantage in its ability to design the next generation of business models, operating practices and customer experiences.
In February, Accenture completed its acquisition of Reactive Media Pty Ltd, one of Australia’s largest independent digital agencies, which specialises in apps, e-commerce websites and social. That was its first acquisition in Asia. PacificLink is the second.
"We don't look at it just purely from a marketing standpoint but from a holistic business perspective," explained De Matteis. "There are so many permutations: maybe a business model requires a new customer experience and that then dictates what we do for marketing. It depends on the client's pain points, but our advantage is not one-dimensional service but different starting points that can lead to end-to-end solutions all the way from strategy to day-to-day operations."
Conversely, when faced with linear competition from agencies who are investing in "hardcore" software, data-management and information functions to bolster their own creative offerings, De Matteis asserted that it is "easier" for Accenture Interactive. "We have heritage across technology and business operations. You can be assured of ROI as we can ensure that technology becomes an enabler of marketing."
"We have tremendous scale from the delivery perspective—for most other companies, that's pretty hard to build quickly. It's taken Accenture many years to do that, and our technology heritage gives us credibility to catalyse the process," added Chau.
Another factor of credibility also stems from the backgrounds of Chau and De Matteis, who are not purebreds in the management consulting field but came with experience in marketing.
"It made it easier for us when we first met Alvin [Lam], who has a similar vision shaped around the marketing agenda," said De Matteis. "Being able to start at that sort of level makes it much eaiser rather than coming in with a pure technology or business-consultant focus."