Who Has The Digital Answer? He Does! No, She Does! No, I Do!

Ad Age asks, “Does the Industry Need Big Digital Agencies Anymore?” I don’t believe it’s a rhetorical question.
Anthropologist Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever does.”
Oh right, we’re not talking about changing the world here, we’re talking about spreading a brand message digitally across many cultures.
Tom Bedecarre, once a traditional ad man, is on the side of big.

“Being a standalone production-oriented company isn’t going to cut it in this increasingly complex world,” said Tom Bedecarre, CEO of AKQA, a 750-person independent digital agency with six offices globally. “Great shops like Barbarian and Firstborn will be pressured to do more services in more places.”

Michael Lebowitz, Founder and CEO of Big Spaceship responds:

“Why are we still talking about the production structure, if everything else has changed? Because we do production doesn’t mean we’re production companies.”

Big Spaceship, Firstborn and EVB have been in the news recently, having picked up projects from Wrigley, after the gum chewers threw off Digitas, Tribal DDB and Agency.com.
In another story, Ad Age asks, Are U.K. Shops Losing Their Touch in the Digital World?
As if that’s not enough disintermediation for one sitting, Ad Age reports that Barbarian Group–an agency that Bedecarre would call “production-oriented”–has a South Korean suitor. Apparently the suitor came up short though, with an offer of a meager $10 million.
So what have we learned? That Interactive is a mad scramble? Yes, and there are plenty of scramblers left unmentioned above.
Clients like to turn to the their most trusted partner for answers, even if that partner doesn’t have a history of Interactive success. The reality is every single provider of marketing services is now offering Interactive in their mix of capabilities. To do otherwise is to reject incremental billings and the need clients have to reach customers where they live (on Facebook).
What I don’t understand is why professional storytellers ever saw the Internet as a “series of tubes” in the first place. It’s not about the technology anymore than TV or radio is about the technology. Yes, mastery of the technology is required, but ideas about what we can do with this technology, that’s what’s needed.

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About David Burn

Native Nebraskan in the Pacific Northwest. Chief Storyteller at Bonehook, a guide service and bait shop for brands. Co-founder and editor of AdPulp. Contributor to The Content Strategist. Doer of the things written about herein.

  • http://www.adcontrarian.com bob hoffman

    Nicely put.

  • http://www.digitaladman.com Chris Jones

    Thanks for the interesting article. Was writing about the same thing on my blog last week. I believe that the digital vs. traditional agency argument has an interesting parallel in the movie business. Before Pixar all feature-length animated movies were drawn by hand (sometimes with a little digital magic added for extra sparkle). Toy Story opened the floodgates for 3D animation and before long there was nothing but computer animated movies out there. Were they all good? Anyone with a small child will know that there is a lot of truly horrible movies out there using 3D animation. When Disney bought Pixar it wasn’t just for their technical skills. It was for their storytelling abilities and craftsmanship. At the end of the day it is ideas that win out – not techniques.