It’s been a while since I teed off. But every now and then you read an article so blatantly wrong you feel compelled to respond. That moment came for me last week when I read an opinion piece on Mumbrella declaring that “Australia’s traditional agencies can’t manage to put out anything remotely passable as digital work”. Which is quite possibly the most ill-informed opinion I’ve heard this year. But rather than relying on sweeping generalisations to support my claim, I’ll respond in the manner appropriate of a strategist – with insights and data.
Before I get into that though, I should make it clear that I have no personal agenda linked to my response. In fact, I’ve spent the last 4 years working within a pure-play digital agency. And I’ll admit that when I first came into the role, I had an opinion similar to Daniel's. Traditional agencies did do digital poorly at the time. But that was 4 years ago. And as anyone working in digital knows, the speed of change in our industry is immense. A lot has transpired since, and the traditional agencies have rapidly bridged the capability gap.
To prove so, you only need to look as far as this year’s AIMIA award finalists. The AIMIAs are widely regarded as the pinnacle within our industry, recognising the best digital work our country has to offer. If Daniel’s assertion was correct, there’d barely be a traditional agency on the radar. Except that there is. Plenty of them. From Leo Burnett to Ideaworks to Whybin/TBWA/Tequila the traditional agencies are representing.
In fact, almost half of all AIMIA finalists came from beyond the pure-play digital environment. I analysed the complete list of AIMIA finalists and identified projects whereby an agency was engaged. Here’s what I found:
- 53 finalists (52%) emanated from a pure-play digital agency
- 37 finalists (36%) emerged from traditional agencies
- 12 finalists (12%) came from a hybrid style agency
Which seems to be fairly conclusive proof that Australia’s traditional agencies are perfectly capable of producing high quality digital work. And to be honest, I’m not sure how anyone involved in the industry could still think otherwise…