The New Agency model and its pitfalls

In a timely article this morning in Adweek, Brian Morrissey and Andrew McMains report on the TBWA\Digital Arts struggle to bridge the divide between a "traditional" and "digital" agency. Things didn't work out as planned apparently -

"The idea was for Omnicom Group's TBWA, never viewed as the most progressive of agency networks in the Web world, to use this roving band of digital geniuses to serve as a center of excellence to help the organization marry its creative with Web savvy. It was to be "advertising at the speed of culture," in DeCourcy's formulation.

The road, however, has been filled with potholes, with several sources saying the initiative has a mixed record. Digital Arts has never cohered at TBWA, they said, beset by the typical agency bureaucratic infighting, turf wars and, perhaps most importantly, the realization that injecting digital into hulking organizations like TBWA is a task much harder than hiring a crew of hotshots. "I don't think everyone in the company had clarity about how it was to work," said a source.

For their part, TBWA executives said Digital Arts has had its ups and downs.

"We played with certain things, we experimented with certain things, and some of it has worked and some of it hasn't," said TBWA Worldwide CEO Tom Carroll. "We get better every day. We learn more every day."


It's rather amazing that we are still discussing this divide at all these days. You can read the whole article here.

Others have been digging into the problems of merging digital/traditional such as Mark Fairbanks in his article The Five Stages of Post-digital Grief, where he takes issue with Sean Duffy's provocative idea "that to maximize the potential of digital media, traditional agencies must be willing to restructure the venerated copywriter/art director team", from Duffy's article Advertising Agencies: Kiss You Creative Team Goodbye.

Perhaps Edward Bosches has the best take on it in his article The New Creative Team and Getting it To Work

Can we all just get along?