Out past the boundaries of meaning, where business assumes the contours of poetry, there was corporate news: “Accenture Is Buying Droga5, an Ad Agency, Making a Bet on Creativity.” The coder-essayist Paul Ford tweeted that it was “the wildest thing since Infosys bought Wongdoody.”
Long ago, Accenture used to be Andersen Consulting, which used to be part of Arthur Andersen, which used to be an accounting company. Not counting the “5” in “Droga5,” there were not especially many numbers in the New York Times news story about the deal, and none of the central numbers: “Terms of the deal, which was announced on Wednesday, were not disclosed.”
Arthur Andersen, the person, died in 1947. Arthur Andersen the company died in the early 21st century, after being convicted of obstruction of justice for its role in the Enron scandal, in which an immense and convoluted corporation did various incomprehensible things in the vicinity of the energy and finance sectors. The Supreme Court overturned its conviction eventually. Andersen Consulting had spun off the original company, changing its name in the process, before any of that trouble struck.
Now it is “Making a Bet on Creativity.” The Times strung more words together:
The company’s marketing arm has grown significantly in recent years as broader shifts in consumer behavior have reordered what advertising truly encompasses. In the past, it was about coming up with attention-grabbing ads. Now, it is also about providing broader consumer experiences.
Broader shifts in consumer behavior require the provision of broader consumer experiences. Broader but also reordered. It is not merely about grabbing attention. Witness this—take your attention and try to apply it to this:
“We’re working with clients to reinvent how consumers buy their particular products and services,” Brian Whipple, the chief executive of Accenture Interactive, the company’s digital agency, said. He pointed to the development of wearable devices for Carnival Cruise Lines and new fitting-room technology at clothing stores.
“We expect to have an Uber-like, Amazon-like experience when we go to a restaurant or go to a retail store or when we order products online,” he said.
Follow the pointing finger to wearable devices for a cruise line and to fitting-room technology. The cruise ships enter the fitting room, to put on their wearable devices, and encounter technology there. Surely not. Chop up the sentences and try to reassemble the pieces into something more focused and comprehensible: We expect to have an Amazon-like experience when we order products online. Very good. We expect to have an Uber-like experience when we go to a restaurant—?
What if there was something about the format of a news story that was making this impossible—the inherent premise, in news, that words and phrases should refer to something observable? It was time to bypass the filter and drink straight from the spring of Accenture’s own website:
• “In our quest to create the best experiences on the planet, we recognized the need to further raise the bar on our brand creative,” continued Whipple
• Today’s news represents an evolution in Accenture Interactive’s journey to build a new agency model—one with the power to engineer transformative brand experiences, and infuse those experiences with the emotional and inspirational power of brand thinking and creativity
• a new agency model — one designed to deliver clients and consumers with seamless, rewarding brand experiences at every touchpoint.
• disruptive forces
• Financial terms of the agreement have not been disclosed.