Give Shops More Credit for Work That Bridges Digital Divide

Viewpoint: Sure, There's Room for Improvement, but We're Long Out of Beta

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Winston Binch
Winston Binch
Recently, I came across Forrester research suggesting that agencies weren't adapting to the current marketing era largely because they lack traditional and digital strengths in equal measure. The study gave my agency a thumb's-up in terms of digital capabilities -- asserting that Crispin Porter & Bogusky is "building up [its] interactive capacity." Perhaps surprisingly, I found their praise frustrating.

Here I was thinking Crispin's production department has been integrated for years: We've served as brand and digital agency of record for clients dating back to 2005, when we took on the Volkswagen business, and since then have managed dot-coms, done mobile and social-media work, built successful e-commerce platforms and been asked to take on digital-only assignments.

That's similar to what plenty of creative agencies around the industry -- Goodby Silverstein & Partners, Ogilvy, Colle & McVoy, Bartle Bogle Hegarty, Venables Bell & Partners and Modernista, just to call out a few -- are doing in the space. So many agencies today are creating successful consumer interactions and content across the entire digital ecosystem without sacrificing the still-important big ideas clients demand of their agency of record.

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Of course there's always room for improvement, but when it comes to our digital capabilities, give us a little more credit. We're long out of beta.

In the post-digital future, there's room for a variety of business models. But to be relevant, agencies will need to be able to develop powerful business and strategic insights and tell brand stories. They'll need to be able to start and curate pop-culture conversations and build scalable digital platforms that allow for long-term engagement and the generation of real-time business results. And of course, they will have to always have technological thinking embedded in their core.

Right now an important step is once and for all ending the conversation about the traditional and digital divide. The best agencies have closed it and now provide one-stop shopping for everything from Super Bowl commercials to digital platforms to mobile apps to social-media conversation management.

While some in the industry may be lagging behind and others are speeding light-years ahead, marketers have a spectrum of powerful integrated options available today, with the vast majority of shops offering multichannel solutions. It can only be done if our clients and industry observers join us in changing the terminology, but from here on out, let's call ourselves by a name that accurately reflects the business we're in: marketing agencies.

Winston Binch has dropped his title as head of interactive production. He's now simply "partner" at Crispin Porter & Bogusky in Boulder, Colo.
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