April 17, 2009

Cooking up the perfect digital agency


Although this blog is inspired by David Ogilvy’s book is not going to be just about him. Saying that, I thought it could be interesting to cover some of the topics he wrote about but update them for the digital world.

His first chapter is called How to Manage an Advertising Agency, He starts by saying that it is not different from managing an other creative organization such as a research lab, magazine, architect’s office or even a kitchen (David Ogilvy was a chef in an earlier life). Over the years I’ve worked at various interactive agencies and even set up one from scratch. Looking at these and other successful digital agencies there are a few common factors that stand out. So how do you create & manage the perfect Interactive Advertising Agency? What’s the recipe for the ideal organization? It would be a mixture of some of the best agencies…


A slice of Razorfish

With strengths in quantitative and qualitative audience research capabilities, Avenue A | Razorfish broad experience creates a strong base for cross channel campaigns.

A bagful of R/GA

This is where creativity meets technology in startling new ways. A perfect example is Nike + which illustrates their approach of building communication platforms that attract and retain customers while weaving marketing and product together.

A cupful of Ogilvy

Brand-focused communication based on big ideas, all mixed up in a 360-degree approach that puts the customer at the centre. Traditional marketing and advertising has a lot to teach new media in terms of crafting the right message.

A little Organic

A strong belief in empathy-based experience design and flair for harnessing Web 2.0 technologies like YouTube, Flickr, and a Facebook applications this brings a lot of smart thinking into the mix.

A sprinkling of Sapient

Spice things up with excellent technology integration ranging from sophisticated transaction-based systems to interactive marketing platforms. For a digital campaign to provide a good customer experience your technology needs to be rock solid.

A dash of Digitas

Last but not least we need some robust measurement and analytics capabilities. Strong measurement and insight from that data is vital for the perfect agency combination.



Make sure your melting pot allows space for strategy and creative to really blend their thinking. Stir in real consumer insights rather than just what you think the target audience would like.

Look beyond digital. Adding traditional media to campaigns may result in a more startling outcome.

Raise the heat by experimenting with fresh ingredients. Be unafraid to explore new ideas or technologies but be careful not to get carried away with the flavour of the moment. Watch trends closely and take advantage of new ways to surprise your audience.

Don’t forget the human element. Each person in the team must pour their expertise and passion into the project in the right amounts. The best work is only possible with the perfect blend of strategy, creativity and technology…. all coordinated and delivered flawlessly.

Measure everything carefully to ensure the right balance of ingredients and to improve your recipe. Never be satisfied. Stay in beta.



The best digital agencies naturally present themselves in the best light. From the office environment through to their own digital marketing efforts. Seeing is believing and the ideal agency should look the part, walk the talk and be constantly striving to be the best. Even with all the right ingredients in place my perfect agency would always feel that it could be a little better.

A digital agency should never be bland. It should have contagious passion for great ideas and defend them to the end. Be brave to walk down new avenues and balance intelligence with ambition. Always staying hungry…


Bon appetit.


Thanks to Forrester and AdAge for a little inspiration.



April 7, 2009

Digital Mad Men


The surprise TV hit of the moment is a show set in the world of advertising of the early 60s. Mad Men follows the exploits of the high flying ad men of Madison Avenue when sexism was politically correct, everyone smoked and a glass of whiskey was vital to coming up with the next big campaign. Fast forward 40 years and today’s digital ad agency looks a lot different… or does it?

Today agencies (digital and traditional) are very much male domains. This is a shame because a few more females would certainly tip the odour balance. In terms of the look of today’s Digital Mad Men you can swap the sharp 60s suits for creative facial hair, piercings and painfully hip t-shirts. Let’s not forget the bare feet in thongs and the obligatory tattoo. In fact, most digital agencies look, at first glance, to be populated by teenagers until you realise that the blue haired guy who just rushed past you on a scooter is probably in his late 30s.

Swap the whiskey for red bull and the sexist banter for hard-to-fathom tech talk and you have the makings of a new TV series. Add a foosball table, some loud yet ironically kitsch music in the background and you have a show that should be really popular around 2049. Everyone can laugh at the quaint idea of websites as they watch the show on the Googlesphere via their psychic interface.

By the way – take a look at the Digital Mad Men spoof on YouTube made by Brand Digital… Click here