Dallas-Based Embark Declares ‘Consulting is Dead,’ Will Send Mini‑Coffins to CFOs Nationwide

From its 17 offices across the U.S., business consulting firm Embark aims to shake up a "tired" $300 billion industry by replacing the reigning "rise-and-grind culture" with a focus on happiness. With an ad in Tuesday's Wall Street Journal and mini-coffins on the way to CFOs nationwide, the firm is looking to kill it—in more ways than one.

Dallas-based Embark is killing it—literally. By which we mean figuratively.

The business consulting firm says it aims to shake up a “tired” $300 billion industry by looking at companies in “a radically different way than the rise-and-grind culture that has long been consulting’s hallmark.”

Instead of telling companies to grind their teams even harder, Embark says it’s set a new standard for industry growth by focusing on “happiness” from its 17 offices across the U.S., which bring “deep expertise” in accounting & finance, technology, M&A, IPOs, HR, and operations to clients across the country.

But first, it’s putting the old consulting model to bed—permanently—by launching a rebrand and marketing campaign called “Consulting Is Dead.” 

Embark took out a full-page ad in the Wall Street Journal Tuesday, seeking to “grab the attention of clients and consultants alike” by proclaiming the death of the traditional consulting model.

L.A.-basd creative agency Angry Gods posted a series of Embark ad images on Instagram. [Images: Angry Gods/Instagram]

Attention CFOs: your coffin is coming

The “tongue-in-cheek” national marketing campaign—from L.A.-based creative agency Angry Gods—will nail the idea home by sending “physical coffin-shaped boxes with a copy of the issue inside” to CFOs around the U.S. 

Embark says it will cap things off by staging a “funeral procession” through New York City, with a hearse adorned in ornate floral arrangements spelling ‘RIP Consulting.'” 

A social media takeover “done in partnership with major industry influencers” will further spread the word of traditional consulting’s alleged demise.

Focusing on ‘happiness’ in work culture

Paul Allen

So if the old way is dead, what’s the new way? It’s as simple as making sure a brand’s team is happy, Embark says.

“Embark was founded on our core belief that happy is good for business and that people do their best work when they’re happy,” Embark CEO Clancy Fossum said in a statement. “It may sound obvious but it’s pretty revolutionary in an industry that has become the poster child for bad work culture. That’s what differentiates us from every other firm in the space—the health and happiness of our employees is our top priority, not just lip service.”

Embark Founder Paul Allen is no stranger to taking risks when it comes to company culture. He proved that in 2022, when he offered his then-300-plus employees $10,000 each to quit. (Only four took the $10K and ran, according to the Dallas Morning News.) His goal then was to make sure every staff member was on board with Embark’s aims.

His goal now? 

“It’s time to tell the world about Embark,” Allen said in a statement. “Our goal is nothing less than to create the most iconic brand in our industry around our core belief that happy is good for business.” 

“The consulting industry isn’t going anywhere, but the old way of consulting is long overdue for change,” he added. “Embark is ushering in a new era of consulting, where people do their best work because they’re happy.”

Writing on LinkedIn, Allen conveyed his vision for Embark when he launched it back in 2010:

“Before founding Embark, I spent five years recruiting for large consulting firms. I personally talked to thousands of consultants and what I witnessed was…bright young minds who were miserable in their careers.”

“I wanted to create a next-gen firm where the health and happiness of our employees was the top priority, not just lip service,” he added. “My thinking was that happy consultants would do better work, which would make for happy clients, fueling the growth of the business. I called the company Embark because I knew it was the beginning of a long, difficult journey.”

“It took five years to reach just $1 million in revenue,” Allen wrote. “We learned and iterated on our formula.”

Surging from $4M to $149M revenue in seven years

Flash forward to today, and things have obviously paid off. Embark posted record company revenue of $149 million in 2023, marking “40.8% year-over-year growth.” It was Embark’s sixth straight year of increased revenue, according to the firm, including four years of triple-digit growth. The company snagged a spot on the Inc. 5000 Fastest-Growing Companies list in 2023, increasing its headcount by more than 20% for that year.

“While the industry at large is knee-deep in cultural malaise and plummeting public opinion, Embark has seen its annual revenue soar from $4M to $149M in the past seven years, a growth rate 20x the industry average,” the firm said. The company said its NPS score—a widely used measure of client satisfaction—”is 70% higher than the industry average and among the best in any industry, rivaling NPS stalwarts like Apple, Ritz-Carlton, and Chick-fil-A. Likewise, the firm’s employee satisfaction rate consistently hovers at an incredible 90%.”

In January, Embark said it “has its eyes set on expanding into additional markets in 2024, including NYC and other Northeast region.”—which makes today’s Wall Street Journal ad and the planned New York “consulting funeral” stunt make even more sense.

The company said CFOs around the U.S. “will receive the coffins next week.”

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