November 12, 2009



Last week I participated in an event organised by IPAN (Interactive Professionals Association Netherlands) about Traditional vs. Digital Agencies. It seems to be a common topic at the moment and is guaranteed to get the blood boiling in people who believe that one side is better than the other. Microsoft’s Consumer & Online Marketing Officer Jacqueline Smit hosted the evening at the Flex Bar in Amsterdam. As usual there were opinions flying around about how “traditional” ad agencies don’t get today’s digital consumer. To be honest there is equal arrogance from some “traditional” ad people who don’t believe digital agencies understand brands. It’s a little like far right Christians and extremist Muslims wanting to bomb the hell out of each other. Personally, I prefer to take the Buddhist route – can’t we just all get along?

I think there is an interesting parallel with the movie business. Before Pixar all feature-length animated movies were drawn by hand (sometimes with a little digital magic added for extra sparkle). Toy Story opened the floodgates for 3D animation and before long there was nothing but computer animated movies out there. Were they all good? Anyone with a small child will know that there is a lot of truly horrible movies out there using 3D animation. When Disney bought Pixar it wasn’t just for their technical skills. It was for their storytelling abilities and craftsmanship. At the end of the day it is ideas that win out – not techniques.

A couple of years ago a so-called “surfer dude” came along with a unified theory of everything that seemed to solve a problem that had trouble physicists for decades. His theory was illustrated by the E8 eight-dimensional mathematical pattern. We need a universal approach to advertising and marketing that connects all the points in an equally elegant way. At King Arthur’s round table everyone was equal. Surely we can do the same with traditional, digital, social, below and above the line, word of mouth, viral and all other types of advertising. Peace.