PwC Acquires Design Agency Pond, Furthering Advertising Push

PwC’s digital services division has acquired Swedish design agency Pond, the latest in a raft of acquisitions as the consulting firm bolsters its creative expertise to compete with traditional ad agencies for marketers’ budgets.

Pond is an 18-year-old, 75-person, Stockholm-based product and service design firm that has worked with clients including Volkswagen and Jameson. PwC acquired Pond’s design business only. Pond continues to operate a separate consulting business.

Financial terms of the deal, which closed last month, were not disclosed.

PwC’s digital services division employed 12,776 staffers worldwide at the end of 2016, up from 4,127 a year ago. The unit increased revenue 63% year-on-year to $3.27 billion, the company said. PwC says 80% of its digital services clients also use the firm’s wider consulting services. Overall, PwC has 223,000 employees worldwide and generated $36.9 billion in revenue last year.

Other recent PwC digital services acquisitions have included Dubai-based cloud computing specialist NSI DMCC, U.K. cybersecurity and privacy consultants Everett and Hong Kong design and creative agency Fluid.

Consulting firms, which traditionally worked with chief executives and chief information officers in the past, are now increasingly working with marketers, whose responsibilities have widened to focus on every area of the customer experience. Consultancies have been snapping up independent ad agencies, design boutiques and digital firms in recent years to expand their marketing skillsets.

This year, consultancies including PwC, Accenture Interactive, IBM’s iX and Deloitte Digital made up four of the top 10 biggest providers of advertising services in the world, according to the Advertising Age Datacenter’s annual rankings, which is based on 2016 revenues. Only Accenture and IBM managed to break into the top 10 last year.

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