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.



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.