Archive for June, 2009

The end of the road for online ad agencies?

Ah, the cyber lions. I’m always excited about the results. Not sure why really, as I could have predicted about 90% of the results right.

Anyway. What’s surprising and seems to have gone unnoticed, is that the cyber lion category, a category once dominated by pure play digital players, is now dominated by advertising agencies.

Let’s have a look at the gold winners:

BBH New York
OGILVY & MATHER Düsseldorf
BBH London
DROGA5 New York

Yes sir, part from AKQA’s grand prix, digital advertising agencies have been remarkable… by their absence. Glue, Poke, RGA, Dare, Profero, Lean mean fighting machine, the Swedish ones, have not got one gold between them. (I don’t count the silver and bronze). Boondongle seems to be the only web agency to be represented. [Got to love that banner concert idea.] The viral factory is always there, but I wouldn’t put them into the digital agencies bandwagon. Oh, almost forgot Bridge worldwide. so that’s 2 out of 11 winners. Please also note they both won for banners.

Anyway, what does it mean? It means that advertising agencies have got their act together. Dominic Goldman, creative director, has digitalized BBH and showed that it only takes one man to make great digital advertising. He is the Barnados mastermind (and last year’s Mentos campaign).

He is obviously the exception, but constantly shows that with the right talent and connection,  advertising agencies like BBH can deliver the best digital work. Better than so called ‘specialists’. Talking about BBH, they got 3 cyber golds. They were laughed at couple of years ago by online agencies for their efforts to gear up in digital, and they did make some mistakes along the way, but who’s laughing now?

It also means that the digital agencies can’t play the ‘They-don’t-get-it’ card anymore. Or ‘they-don’t-have-techy-people-in-house’. Who cares? Get good creatives who gets digital in, tech-savvy producers,  outsource to the best digital production houses, and you are in business.

It’s the end of an era for me and I’m afraid I can’t really see it changing.

My friend David Lee, one of the most talented digital creative of the hour has just left WK London for… another ad agency… TBWA Digital Arts in NY.

Just here in WK Amsterdam, we’ve got the art director of Get the glass, and Edu and Jab from Spanish digital hotshop DoubleYou.

The talent problem will always be there for digital agencies. Talented creative will always want to work for the BBH, Fallon, CP+B, WK or Goodby of this world. They are just waiting for the call, no matter what they are saying. They are lying.

Going from glue to BBH felt like being promoted to the Premiere league (no disrespect to glue at all that I still love). I’m talking about going from digital to advertising.  From being the last thing on your client’s agenda to being the first. From having to adapt some shit ATL strategy online to being on the driving seat of global brands. From a 50,000 pounds budget to millions.

It just is more exciting. As long as digital agencies will not be ‘owning’ relationships with their clients, they will never be able to compete with their advertising agencies counter part to lure talent. And no talent means no awards. Which means no PR. No new business, etc. Repeat until extinction.

Some like glue have always see it coming and have always positioned themselves as being an advertising agency specialised in digital. Only recently have they finally justified it by netting 3 in the UK, which I applaud them for.

But the rest is better hurry before they either disappear or get transformed into production arms of others advertising agencies and end up just building websites and banners.

Digital agencies were supposed to take over the advertising world.

I sincerely hope this will serve as a wake up call for the industry and that they will be back challenging for honours next year.

At least I know the Viral Factory will  be there. They seem to have an uncanny habit of always winning at Cannes. Well done chaps.