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Circus, M8, Adsmovil, Wunderman, Vale Network, Discuss Accentures Move into Programmatic Buying

What: Last week, Accenture Interactive launched a programmatic services unit that will handle media ..



What: Last week, Accenture Interactive launched a programmatic services unit that will handle media planning, buying, and management. We talked to agency executives in the U.S. and Latin America to find out their perspective. Interviewees: Juan Pablo Jurado, Bruno Lambertini, Alberto Pardo, Ana Ramos, John Santiago, and Vilma Vale-Brennan.
Why it matters: Some industry players have argued that Accenture's move into programmatic buying represents a conflict of interest because Accenture carries out media audits of agencies.

Accenture Interactive, the digital area of the consultancy giant, has jumped into the agency territory with its new programmatic services offering. The Accenture Intractive Programmatic Services unit will include media planning, buying and management. According to Accenture Interactive, the aim is to help clients take control and ownership of their data and technology, providing them with greater transparency and enabling them to achieve greater business outcomes and regain trust.

According to Adweek's interview with Scott Tieman, the global lead for the new Accenture Interactive unit, clients are looking to “in-house” their programmatic because theyre looking to take back control of their media capabilities. This means instead of managing an agency, the company is now deep in the world of media planning, activation, measurement, and optimization, territories it hadn't worked in before.

For some agencies, this move is "a clear conflict of interest" because Accentures Media Management arm carries out media audits of agencies and runs pitches. Stephen Allan, global chief executive of MediaCom, called Accentures dual roles "troubling", according to Campaign Live.

Even though Accenture has insisted that it can avoid any conflict of interest and that it "would not provide auditing and programmatic services to the same client", the American Association of Advertising Agencies has said it will invite all agencies to take some time to reconsider participating in any review Accenture is conducting, and to really think if they will allow Accenture to audit their media. We talked to members of Portada's Council of the Americas and Agency Star Committee, as well as other guest interviewees to find out more about their perspective. As Ana Ramos, Publicis Media's Marketing Director in Mexico points out, "big consultancy firms are moving into the media agency space is a sign of the strategic importance that advertising plays in business," and it's crucial that we know where we're standing as the industry moves.

At the Face of Change, the Winner Is the One that Moves Faster

Bruno Lambertini, member of Portada's Council of the Americas

The business of advertising is changing at an unprecedented pace. As Bruno Lambertini, founder and CEO of Circus Marketing told Portada in a previous interview, we don't even know where technology is taking us. According to him, the only way to successfully respond to these changes is to adapt: "the faster the structure and the more adapting speed you have, the better chance you'll have to generate value in this new industry."

They think they can get involved, but it's complicated to start moving in the programmatic business; I don't think they'll be satisfied at all.

Vilma Vale-Brennan, member of Portada's Agency Star Committee

For Vilma Vale-Brennan, General Manager of Vale Network, organizations will have to face the future with creativity. As she points out, "the entrance of Accenture and other consultancy firms like PwC, IBM and Deloitte bring a new dynamic to the always evolving advertising world." Brennan says she can imagine their data and capabilities providing value to clients, "but lets not forget that advertising is not only data and placing media efficiently. With the advent of ad blocking, skipping, and the decline of TV ratings, advertisers need to go beyond TV ads and paid social to reach consumers."

However, some agencies believe Accenture might not be ready for this new move. Juan Pablo Jurado, CEO of Wunderman, Latam, believes that Accenture might be biting more than it can chew: "Accenture doesn't have clear what it's getting into," he says, "the communication business is changing and it's starting to mix with consulting, so that's why they think they can get involved, but it's complicated to start moving in the programmatic business; I don't think they'll be satisfied at all.

When the Future Arrives, It's Best to Bid it Welcome

"The same applies to programmatic: its one of the most transformative digital disciplines," comments Publicis' Ana Ramos. "A good approach to programmatic not only generates good communication results for advertisers, but its an unparalleled source of insights to optimize other media or even creative messaging and product."

Networks could not move as quickly as technology and data demanded it, losing their strategic role and leaving room for new players like consultancies, independent agencies, and media themselves.

"In this new era of communication, there's a complete reshaping of the value chain structure taking place," asserts Bruno Lambertini. "Networks could not move as quickly as technology and data demanded it, losing their strategic role and leaving room for new players like consultancies, independent agencies, and media themselves."

"Programmatic is the first step towards machine learning and artificial intelligence; in this sense, Accenture's making a great move which can pave the path to the world of future media centres," adds Lambertini.

Accenture Shouldn't Overlook Challenges Ahead; Neither Should Industries

Alberto Pardo, member of Portada's Council of the Americas

One of the first challenges that agencies will face is the direct competition with consultancies and in-house teams. "Here there is an important transformation of the traditional media business," comments Alberto Pardo, Founder & CEO of Adsmovil. "Where previously it was focused only on the agencies and now the agencies, in a certain way, are competing with the consultant's companies and also with the in-house teams."

Another challenge is the need for sensitivity and experience in the business, as well as the ability for agencies to adapt. "Advertising still has an art to it and the creation of the right experience and messaging to the right audience is an expertise mastered by advertising agencies," says Vilma Vale-Brennan. "The issue at hand is how fast agencies can implement their data and analytics models versus consultancies acquiring creative shops and integrating them into their ways of working."

For Bruno Lambertini, Accenture still lacks the sensitivity of knowing how to build a brand from scratch: "Accenture is getting into the agency business, but agencies are getting into Accenture's business. In this sense, the one who adopts the other's capabilities first will be the winner."

The 4A's have a right to be concerned, Accenture should consider a firewall for clients who they are contractually doing auditing services for.

M8's John Santiago

The main concern for agencies is that Accenture could now use sensitive information for purposes that could pose a conflict of interest, as the 4A's have affirmed. "Its concerning when a company that has had, for years, access to sensitive advertising agency information in their role as advisor to brands, evolves to include themselves in the role of competitor and begin to offer those very same services," points out John Santiago, CEO of M8.

"Since Accenture's clients are asking them to assist with their programmatic media spend while providing an existing range of digital marketing services, I think it's a natural progression for their business," adds Alberto Pardo. "I do believe however that the 4A's have a right to be concerned and Accenture should consider a firewall for clients who they are contractually doing auditing services for."

So, What Should We Expect?

As our experts say, this move could be a good thing; as the industry evolves, new players could carve a path to a future that teaches us how to reach objectives in different ways, as Vilma Vale-Brennan says, "At the end, advertisers will end up with a better solution to reach consumers and drive stagnant sales for most categories." It has to do with a way of looking at things, Accenture could help agencies rethink priorities and reevaluate their own organization. "Accenture is welcome in Latam; it can help us add to the solutions agencies have in order to give more value to our clients," adds Bruno Lambertini.

As it happened with many executives, Alberto Pardo isn't surprised by Accenture's move. "Accenture has a different relationship with customers than an agency does. Historically, they have done more focused on business strategy and in many cases have relationships with several people inside on the companies," Alberto Pardo. "On the advertising side, they started doing consulting work for clients and the next step was naturally to get into the interesting world of the advertising and media business." This means other consulting agencies could take a similar step.

Is it unfair for them to have had the proverbial 'look under the hood' of many agencies? Yes. Will it push agencies, who have the talent and creativity under their roofs to deliver more value to brands? Also, Yes.

"The competition is healthy and welcomed. Is it unfair for them to have had the proverbial 'look under the hood' of many agencies? Yes. Will it push agencies, who have the talent and creativity under their roofs to deliver more value to brands? Also, Yes," declares John Santiago. "Finally, we are starting to see more and more bespoke agency solutions, as well as the re-aligning of creativity and media distribution, and I think that will help, but the agency business needs to never stop looking for ways to add more value to the brands they serve. I think there are bigger threats to the traditional agency business model than consultancies like Accenture."

Janet Grynberg

Janet has worked as editor and translator since 2013. After graduating with honors when receiving her Bachelor's Degree in English literature, she began working as a book reviewer for Expansión, the leading business magazine in Mexico. She has also worked as editor of young adult literature for publishing houses like Planeta and Penguin, and she's the author of a book of short stories. She's in the process of getting her MA in English at McGill University. Her interests include arts, good food, and her 8 pets.

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Latin America

Coronavirus: What’s behind Latin America’s oxygen shortages?




Before the clinic ran out of oxygen, Maria Auxiliadora da Cruz had been showing encouraging signs of progress against Covid-19. On 14 January, her oxygen levels had been above the normal level of 95% but, within hours of being deprived of that vital resource, her stats plummeted to 35%.

At this point, patients would normally be given intubation and oxygen by machine. Instead, the 67-year-old retired nurse died. “It was horrible,” her grieving daughter-in-law Thalita Rocha told the BBC. “It was a catastrophe. Many elderly patients began to deteriorate and turn blue.”

In an emotional video that went viral on social media, she described what was happening at Policlínica Redenção in the northern Brazilian city of Manaus. “We’re in a desperate situation. An entire emergency unit has simply run out of oxygen… A lot of people are dying.”

Brazil has the world’s second-highest Covid death toll with more than 221,000 fatalities. In Manaus, the health system has collapsed twice during the pandemic and deaths doubled between December and January.

Now there are fears the lack of oxygen supplies seen there could unfold elsewhere in Brazil and even in other parts of Latin America, where a second wave of Covid-19, in many countries, is proving to be worse than the first one.

In Peru, some hospitals have been unable to meet the demand brought by a steep rise in cases in recent weeks. As a result, patients’ relatives have had to hunt for oxygen in the black market. In some cases, they come back with nothing.

A black market is also thriving in Mexico, where more than 155,000 have died in the pandemic. To make things worse, there have been reports of thieves taking oxygen cylinders from hospitals and clinics.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) one in five Covid-19 patients will require oxygen. In severe cases, this rises to three in five. The organisation says some hospitals have seen demand for oxygen increase between five and seven times above normal levels because of the influx of patients with severe and critical disease.

The most dramatic situation in the world is in Brazil, where nearly 340,000 oxygen cylinders are needed every day, according to the Covid-19 Oxygen Needs tracker. The online tool helps estimate the scale of the challenge for policymakers and was developed by the Covid-19 Respiratory Care Response Coordination partnership which includes Path and Every Breath Counts.

Also according to the tracker, Mexico and Colombia each need more than 100,000 cylinders daily.

So how does a hospital run out of oxygen?

Oxygen has been considered an essential medicine by the WHO since 2017, but Lisa Smith, from Path’s market dynamics program, says ensuring adequate supply depends on many “components” falling into place.

This includes not only sources of production, but also training to enable medical staff to monitor and manage oxygen levels.1px transparent line

Medical oxygen is produced in large quantities at plants and delivered to hospitals in two ways: either in bulk in liquid tanks or as pressurised gas in cylinders containing smaller volumes.

Liquid oxygen is the cheapest and best technology available but it requires hospitals to have the right infrastructure to pipe oxygen to the patient’s bedside. This is common in developed countries such as the US and those in Europe.

Cylinders do not require pipes and can be delivered to clinics without a sophisticated infrastructure. However, their distribution on a smaller scale means they are less cost-effective, in addition to being cumbersome to transport and handle, which also carries an increased risk of cross-contamination.

Another source of production is on-site oxygen plants, which produce oxygen to be piped or compressed into cylinders. The WHO says it is currently trying to map how many such plants exist in the countries.

After Manaus reached crisis point, oxygen donations were sent from the federal government and other states – as the local providers said they were unable to increase production – and across the border from Venezuela. But even transporting them became a problem.

Jesem Orellana, an epidemiologist at the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation in the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro, said the risk of shortage continued and was exacerbated by global demand.

According to Path, medical oxygen accounts for just 5-10% of the world’s oxygen production. The rest is used in various industries, such as mining, chemical and pharmaceutical.

“We need to think about oxygen as much as we think about electricity, water or other essential utilities,” says Ms Smith. “This can’t be something that we’re only concerned about when it’s bad, because when it’s bad, people will die.”

In the meantime, there are concerns that the strain of Covid-19 on oxygen supplies could have a knock-on effect for the treatment of other diseases.

“Covid has shown us just how essential it is in countries where there is no vaccine against Covid, no medicines,” says Leith Greenslade, who leads the Every Breath Counts Coalition. “Often, it’s down to whether you get oxygen or not, whether you live or die.”

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Latin America

Honduran abortion law: Congress moves to set total ban ‘in stone’




Parliament in Honduras has initially approved a bill that will make it virtually impossible to legalise abortion in the country.

The new measure will require at least three-quarters of Congress to vote in favour of modifying the abortion law, which is among the strictest in world.

Honduras forbids abortion under any circumstance, even rape or incest.

Its latest move comes in response to Argentina legalising abortion last month.

Across Latin America, there has been increased pro-choice campaigning, known as the “green wave”, based on the colour worn by protesters.

The new legislation in Honduras hinges on an article in the constitution that gives a fetus the same legal status of a person. Constitutional changes have until now been permitted with a two-thirds majority, but the new legislation raises that bar to three-quarters within the 128-member body.

The measure still needs to be ratified by a second vote. However, support was clear on Thursday: with 88 legislators voting in favour, 28 opposed and seven abstentions.

Honduras has a stanchly conservative majority, which referred to the measure as a “shield against abortion”.

“What they did was set this article in stone because we can never reform it if 96 votes are needed [out of 128]”, opposition MP Doris Gutiérrez told AFP news agency.

Mario Pérez, a lawmaker with the ruling party of President Juan Orlando Hernandez, formally proposed the change last week, calling it a “constitutional lock” to prevent any future moderations of the abortion law.

“Every human being has the right to life from the moment of conception,” said Mr Pérez.

Ahead of the vote, UN human rights experts condemned the move, saying in a statement: “This bill is alarming. Instead of taking a step towards fulfilling the fundamental rights of women and girls, the country is moving backwards.”

Abortion has been constitutionally banned in Honduras since 1982.

In 2017, lawmakers voted on decriminalising it in the case of rape, incest or when there was danger to the mother or the fetus, but the move was roundly rejected.

Nicaragua, El Salvador and Haiti also have complete bans on abortion, but Honduras is the only country to also prohibit the use of emergency contraceptives in all cases, including after rape.

Cuba, Uruguay, Guyana and Argentina are the only Latin American countries to permit abortion in the first weeks of pregnancy.

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Latin America

Mynor Padilla: Killer of anti-mining activist pleads guilty




The ex-security chief at a mine in Guatemala, Mynor Padilla, has pleaded guilty to killing an anti-mining activist in 2009.

Adolfo Ich was killed at the Fénix mine, which was owned at the time by a subsidiary of Canadian mining giant Hudbay Minerals.

He had been campaigning against the mining project and for his community’s land rights.

Germán Chub, a bystander, was also shot, leaving him paralysed.

The guilty plea comes at a retrial after Padilla was cleared of murder at a previous trial.

What happened in September 2009?

The Fénix nickel project was owned by the Guatemalan Nickel Company (CGN), a subsidiary of Toronto-based Hudbay Minerals.

CGN wanted to develop the mine, but the indigenous Maya community objected, arguing that much of the company’s land belonged to them.

The company said it engaged in talks to negotiate their resettlement but members of the Maya community said they were threatened with forced evictions.

On 27 September 2009, security guards at the mine attacked members of the community with machetes and firearms, according to witnesses.

Adolfo Ich was killed, Germán Chub was left paralysed, and at least seven more people were injured.

What was Mynor Padilla’s role?

Mynor Padilla was the chief of security at the Fénix project and witnesses said he was the key man in the attack on 27 September 2009.

Hudbay defended its personnel, alleging that members of the Maya community had turned on each other and that their security staff had acted in self-defence.

Following a three-year murder trial Padilla was acquitted, much to the outrage of the victims’ families who launched an appeal.

What’s the latest?

The court of appeal overturned the acquittal and ordered a retrial which began in December 2020.

After having for years maintained his innocence, Mynor Padilla entered a guilty plea which was accepted by the court on Wednesday.

A lawyer for Adolfo Ich’s widow in a civil lawsuit against Hudbay Minerals in Canada called it a “momentous day”.

Why does it matter?

There are three civil lawsuits under way against Hudbay Minerals in Canada, in connection with the Fénix mine.

One of them was filed by Adolfo Ich’s widow, Angélica Choc, who alleges that the company failed to take adequate precautions to ensure that human rights abuses would not be perpetrated by Hudbay’s security personnel.

In 2013, a court in Ontario allowed the lawsuits to proceed, making it the first time that foreign claimants were allowed to pursue a lawsuit against a Canadian company in Canada for alleged human rights abuses.

Cory Wanless, one of the lawyers for the plaintiffs, said that following Mynor Padilla’s guilty plea “it will be difficult for Hudbay to continue to argue that it does not bear responsibility for the killing and shooting”.

Hudbay Minerals has released a statement saying it would “review the court’s decision once it is released”, which is due to happen later this month.

The company, which sold the Félix mine to Swiss-based Solway Group in 2011, also stated that “any agreements made in the Guatemalan court do not affect our view of the facts of Hudbay’s liability in relation to civil matters currently before the Ontario court”.

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