Contrary to popular belief, the digital revolution is not limited to advertising industry.

April 28, 2010

Note to agencies: We are not alone

For the last few years our agency’s worldwide mandate has been to “put digital at the core” of everything we do. This means exactly what you think it means. Instead of putting digital in a “bucket” or “silo,” and treating it as one of many marketing services, Euro RSCG revolves the company’s universe around it. And within that scheme, we (the employees) have been strongly encouraged to “get social” or get out of town! These directives are elemental to the agency’s primary purpose of “getting us and our clients to the future first.”

A couple weeks back, JWT named its Worldwide Digital Director, David Eastman, North American CEO. Worldwide CEO, Bob Jeffries indicated that this sent a strong message (to clients and competitors) about what direction the agency was going, and that JWT was serious about putting digital at the center of business operations.

As I write this, Ogilvy & Mather Chicago rehired digital ECD, David Hernandez from Tribal DDB. He’ll “provide digital creative leadership across all agency disciplines,” said Joe Sciarrotta, Chief Creative Officer of the agency.

And so it goes, by hook or by crook, ad agencies everywhere are finding ways to make digital their big story: on our creds, in our case studies, in general. Whether this is done via purchase or through internal machinations or both it is getting done. Some of us are doing it faster and better than others. But it’s a crowded field. And the race is far from over.

My point is not to ridicule this any of this. I wholeheartedly support it. What I find interesting is Ad Land’s belief that this is a media centric phenomenon, that the migration of marketing to digital platforms is somehow unique to our industry.

Everyone is putting digital front and center. Be it media, education, insurance, institution, government, finance, retail, CPG, the dry cleaners up the street. One is hard pressed to find any operation that isn’t doing business online, let alone marketing it that way. Some die trying ( Some flourish (Amazon). Most are somewhere in between.

One has already heard the call that consumers are taking over the message. Ad Land’s first reaction was just that: a reaction. Born of fear. That somehow we –the creators and drivers of all consumerism- woke up one day and discovered a new landscape, and one where we weren’t needed anymore. That fear drove us to buy, hire and promote digital expertise with breathless abandon. To play catch up if you will.

But is the fear real? No more than it is for any other business. The only difference is somehow we deemed it our mission to re-take that landscape. Or perish. Perhaps we doth protest too much. By overly stating how important digital is to our operations, we demonstrate fear of being left behind.

I’ve said it before: We are all pioneers. The landscape is free country and has been since Al Gore invented it. We need only apply our vast skills (ideation, creation, brand management and so on) in the same direction as everyone else.

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7 Responses to “Contrary to popular belief, the digital revolution is not limited to advertising industry.”

  1. I’m totally agree with you. We’re definitely pionneers, and that’s quite exciting. I’m really enjoying this moment when something true one day about strategy is completely obsolete or wrong the next day. We’re finally starting to learn from our mistakes again… and doing mistakes is good! I believe we forgot about the value of making errors, and how important they were in the built of any entity, wether it’s a person or a brand, as that’s the best experience we can learn from.

    Anyway, your post made me remember about something I wrote on Euro RSCG Social about how the moment we’re currently leaving is a revolution, after 6 centuries of the Book reign. To make it short, now everybody can have access to knowledge, and that’s a major shift that leads to an organic pattern of propagation VS an old pyramidal one. It’s a New Deal for the world, where transparency and interaction are at the core, and I find it quite exciting.

  2. Brian Morrissey said

    Great post. I wonder about the success rate of ‘analog’ organizations putting digital at the core. (Full disclosure: I’m at one of those organizations trying to make that transition.) I think it’s incredibly difficult. The structures, processes and people in place are often oriented to a different behavior and outcome. I’m sure it can be done, but I bet the success rate isn’t great.

  3. SRP said

    On the other hand maybe we ought to be scared!

  4. Madison said

    Great post!
    “One has already heard the call that consumers are taking over the message. Ad Land’s first reaction was just that: a reaction. Born of fear.”

    And when you fearful you cannot always ACT, but you sure can TALK (e.g. about your fear). The more ad people talk about getting out of the silo, they more (in my mind) they get stuck in that very place.

    • SRP said

      Ergo my comment about “doth protesting too much.”
      Becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Fear is hard to overcome, in any line of work, in life.

  5. Thanks for sharing it.

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