The self-proclaimed "agency for the digital age" underwent a strategic reorientation of sorts over the past year. While its focus has always been on melding technology with creative execution, R/GA has also reemphasized a more design-driven approach to its work. The company recently launched its Brand Design division, spearheaded by North American chief creative officer Nick Law and led by director of branding Marc Shillum.
"Design is a foundational aptitude," says North America CCO Law. "Looking back at this year, there are two things that crystallized things creatively. One is the idea that we build these digital platforms on top of which you can market. There is a lot of confusion in the agency business right now about who's doing advertising and who's doing software. What we suggest is that you build a platform like a Nike for example. The application is evergreen and it's not episodic. On top of that, you communicate the campaign."
According to chairman/CEO Bob Greenberg, the current approach of the agency is somewhat cyclical. "It's all integrated, but I would suggest that design plays a very important part in our agency, going back to the very beginnings in 1977. Our trademark wasn't 'the agency for the digital age' but 'moving pictures by design.'"
In 2008, R/GA also continued to expand on its multiple award-winning Nike+ initiative with "Human Race," a 10K running event hosted in 25 cities around the worldon August 31st, 2008. Additionally, the agency doubled the staff of its digital studio and developed story-driven applications like Nokia's viNe, an experiential mobile map tool that continued the "Urbanista Diaries" campaign.
Law, on the development of R/GA Brand Design: "What we recognized was that when we were building these interactive experiences we were often building the first and sometimes only experience with a brand. For us, there was a disconnect from what a traditional branding agency was doing to understand technology and behavior in the interactive world. Our thinking was that since we have this very dimensional understanding of marketing and design that we should be creating a brand that fits into that. We know how [the brand] moves, how it sounds and we know what you get back from it when you click it. We're building this philosophy around the brand as an interface."
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