How many times have you heard the term “digital transformation” in the past year? Are you feeling transformed yet?
San Francisco ad man Tom Bedecarré doesn’t understand what’s taking so long. In response to a Wall Street Journal article about Publicis’ efforts to get the cool kids in a room, Bedecarré wrote this on LinkedIn:
It’s been more than 23 years since the introduction of digital advertising, and Madison Avenue still has not completely embraced Silicon Valley. Not a single agency holding company has a significant physical presence here.
The occasional Silicon Valley “management retreat” like the one Publicis made in 2015, or annual visits to Google and Facebook headquarters, will not bridge the divide.
When are traditional agencies going to understand the role of technology in creating advertising that works?
The inverse question is equally valid. When will techies grasp the power of persuasion to move people?
Thankfully, there are some interesting and revealing comments on Bedecarré’s post. Derek Walker brings the problem into clearer focus with this telling comment:
Clients cannot insist on cost cutting measures and then demand innovation. Well, they can but they won’t get it. Clients might want to look at their own commitment to digital to see how it impacts the actions of their agencies. Innovation requires a capital investment.
How many clients have invested in transforming their websites into digital platforms? Do they understand what that could represent to their business? Disney gets it. Most brands can’t even respond within 2 hours to situations reported to them through their social media pages, but they want to say agencies are out of touch? Brands websites are a joke, they are nothing but digital brochure. Embracing digital is going to make everyone uncomfortable, and brands are not good at being uncomfortable. Agencies don’t cut loose with digital because they know their clients.
Agencies don’t cut loose with digital because they know their clients have little appetite for risk. Playing it safe doesn’t win you the game, but you may get to stay on the field a bit longer.
Another problem with Bedecarré’s lament is location. Why do agencies need to be in the Bay Area to be digitally advanced? Will the people at Google and Apple suddenly see the ad men and women in their presence as equals? Are the tech savvy ready to work arm-in-arm with idea-generating people who don’t code?
In realted news, Publicis has hired Nick Law—a tradigitalist—from R/GA to be its new chief creative officer of the holding company and president of Publicis Communications.