About 12 different individuals either emailed, tweeted or otherwise prodded me towards an article on Mumbrella yesterday, so I figured it must be of interest.
The article entitled 'Traditional agencies are driving away their digital superstars with their old ways' is an argument from digital agency strategist Daniel Monheit around how Australia’s 'creative' (ie big advertising shops) agencies will never be able to keep digital talent.
Here's his nub.
'...[digital talent] don’t last six months in traditional agencies. They suffocate, or are crushed under the weight of endless banner campaigns and microsite rollouts based on print ads. Their brilliance, ingenuity and ambition goes unnoticed in the opulent shrines dedicated to 30 second spots, catchy jingles and 10% commissions.'
Despite notionally agreeing with much of his schtick I'm compelled to say that I still feel that the 'brand' agencies are best placed to be doing the great digitally driven work, should they choose to take the opportunity.
At the moment they still have the budgets, the weight in terms of resource and the brand nous.
The issue is that many 'digital' agencies have is a 'tactical' focus rather than a 'strategic'.
The brand agencies have the instinct to think at a higher level.
It's all there for the taking for the big agencies but yes, I agree that there is the problem of mindset.
It's no use cramming digital talent in at the bottom of the pile, the change has to happen at the very top.
As an example, the recent restructure at JWT North America (the oldest ad agency in the world, remember) that saw Jeff Benjamin, the ex-Crispin Porter + Bogusky interactive creative director join as Chief Creative Officer, and Mike Geiger, formerly chief digital officer at Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, has been named as President, Chief Integration officer, JWT North America.
So it is happening.
For the rest of us, yes there is the temptation to feel undervalued or undermined, but we have a mindset issue too.
Here's an excerpt from a piece I wrote in July last year, In The Ghetto, which seems strangely relevant to this conversation.
My irk is that 'the digital' is invariably 'other'.
By labelling it digital it's somehow SEPARATE from 'proper' planning or 'proper' creative.
It becomes secondary by it's otherness.
It's down the totem pole.
It's the little brother or sister.
The add-on after the real stuff.
'...Lets get the basics right first then do some social...'
This is not a pop at the traditionalists per se.
It's the digitalists that are as much the problem, by revelling in their otherness.
My fellow digerati, honestly, until we figure this out we'll always be in the ghetto.