EY Italy takes on advertising and communication rivals with EY-BrandGroup

22 December 2017 Consultancy.eu 4 min. read

Two months after announcing its acquisition of Italian advertising and marketing services firm Brand Group, EY has completed the transaction. As part of the integration, EY has joined the forces of three of its divisions all acquired in recent months – Brand Group, NeriWolff and Applix – consolidated into a new division: EY-BrandGroup.

In recent months, the consulting industry has made large and determined strides into the advertising world. As firms look to consolidate and expand their revenue streams in an uncertain economic and political period, the lucrative world of digital design solutions has offered a major opportunity to the industry.

The most notable examples of this have thus far come from Deloitte, whose creative arm now includes UK-based Market Gravity and award winning creative agency Heat, and Accenture, whose substantial campaign of acquisitions has meanwhile made the firm’s Accenture Interactive label one of the world’s largest digital agencies – though its actual size is disputed by top members of the advertising industry. With many more firms, including BCG and McKinsey, among others, also entering the market, advertisers look set to face a sustained period of disruption resulting from the increased competition.

The holistic design services offered by consulting firms, as well as their substantial strength and depth of personnel are likely to persuade many new clients that the company is the right choice to find an innovative and value-adding solution – eating into the market share of smaller ad market incumbents in the process. In Italy, the latest entrant into that market sphere is Big Four professional services firm EY.

EY Italy takes on advertising and communication rivals with EY-BrandGroup

The firm has completed its arrival into the advertising, communication and marketing scene by merging three acquired agencies, the first of which was NeriWolff, which was purchased in 2016, into a single entity. EY-BrandGroup consists of design outfits spread throughout Italy.


Following NeriWolff, EY also acquired technology company Applix, who specialise in the creation of digital products and contents, and more recently Brand Group, a renowned Italian advertising agency. The company is led by CEO Mauro de Rosa – who will become a Partner at EY with his brother Franco, who leads the Group's digital structure. As part of the integration, three offices across Italy, situated in Turin, Milan and Rome, and over 150 advisors and staff will join the Big Four firm. BrandGroup ended 2016 with a turnover of €15.5 million, and saw healthy growth across all fronts of its core business. The efforts of its digital department contributed 48% of turnover, ahead of advertising (33%), design-architecture (15%) and public relations (4%).

Speaking on the deal, Andrea Paliani, Advisory lead at EY Italy, commented, "With this transaction, our consultancy is enriched with new skills: brand strategies, communication, digital marketing and retail design."

EY has subsequently blended its trio of purchases together to create EY-BrandGroup. The newly integrated unit already enjoys a turnover of €25 million, while hosting 250 staff across a range of multidisciplinary skill sets.

Paliani: "EY-BrandGroup will offer strategic, tactical and operational support to companies and public administrations. I firmly believe that the combination of branding and strategic consulting, enabled by digital technologies, will enable our clients to increase the strength of their brand, i.e. their ability to influence the consumer and generate greater economic value."

As their firm became a part of EY’s new agency, brothers Mauro and Franco Di Rosa meanwhile added in a statement, "Today, consulting and communication can no longer be experienced as separate or competitive, but as the two hemispheres of a circular system that gives new form and substance to market offerings. Our attitude, which has always been a consultant to advertising and media clients, fully integrates with the culture of EY, and aims to multiply its effectiveness.”