We, Jack In The Box Worldwide, were the only digital agency shortlisted in the category Digital Advertising.
We got a bronze. But the golds went to Ogilvy and Taproot.
It’s time those who claim that mainline agencies don’t ‘get’ digital shut up and take a long, hard look at the awards tallies.
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At the Abbys, Ogilvy’s Fox Crime campaign swept the Digital Grand Prix. The same story was just repeated at the Effies last Tuesday.
And media agencies, the third wheel of our growing ecosystem, were nowhere to be seen.
Let’s face it – at both of India’s premier award shows, where digital agencies and mainline agencies compete in the same field, the mainline agencies have come out ahead.
They may not have won as many awards as the digital and media agencies but they have won the top prize twice in a row now.
The disparity in the number of medals can be explained by the fact that mainline shops get much fewer digital briefs than digital and media agencies.
In fact, the only place you’ll find digital and media agencies competing and winning are at specialist digital award shows – Campaign India’s Digital Awards, the IDMA, etc.
But, and not very quietly either, mainline agencies have been working to catch up and get past the competition.
Lowe, as Joseph George announced in a recent interview, is working to ‘mainline’ digital.
Ogilvy presents and executes an integrated campaign for almost every brief.
JWT has, under Bobby Pawar and Max Hegermann, set up a very capable pan-India digital team.
Leo Burnett’s Creative Directors are, in their own words, asked to crack the digital idea before the TVC.
BBH is competing with their clients’ digital agencies, pitching digital ideas along with their mainline campaigns.
BBDO has integrated so closely with Proximity that the latter even pitches (and executes) TVCs, on occasion.
It won’t be long before they’re winning digital duties, either as part of an integrated package, or stand-alone.
They have the clients, they have the money to hire good digital people, and they can play the long game more easily than small digital shops.
They also have better creative folk than media agencies, whose key business is in the planning and buying of media space, not creative solutions.
And which client wouldn’t want to give their business to a place that has proven their understanding of the brand time and time again, and shows that they can do it in digital as well?
Us digital folk are fighting a battle we haven’t fully realised we’re in. And we have two options in front of us now.
One: Sell out. Every network agency is shopping for digital agencies in India. There are at least two digital shops I know of in serious talks, and another that has already been stealthily acquired. Integrate with the network agency and play in a larger field, quicker than you would’ve otherwise.
Two: The option former Campaign India editor Anant Rangaswami suggests in his tour de force, The Elephants In The Room. Hire people who ‘get’ brands, across servicing and creative. Show clients that digital agencies can act as brand custodians too. And once you’ve consolidated your digital business, start attacking the mainline agencies by pitching for their mainline business.
What started off as a niche industry has become a full-blown battleground. It’s the Jedi versus the Sith, and it’s unclear, as of now, who’s going to emerge the winner.