Home > Uncategorized > Digital Silo-ism needs to end

Digital Silo-ism needs to end


Decades ago when I started in advertising, in India, TV was a new medium.

The agency I worked in then had a TV department.

It comprised of a couple of pot smoking creative looking types. Long hair, eccentric, came and went when they felt like etc.

Their job was to look at the creative brief, take the print campaign and create a film out of it. Then we had to go sell it to client and then off these guys would go to make the film.

Really, I kid you not.

The problems with that approach are obvious.

But the good thing was that it was all one company, one P&L. Just that one set of people had skills the others did not.

As TV became more mainstream, the department vanished and made its way to a production team that produced the film, the creative department came up with.

I mention this because in recent times one sees the same cycle being repeated with Digital.

But it is worse in many cases because they run different divisions or P&Ls or whatever the management term for that is.

Yet again they are staffed by people who act and behave like they are special. They often get pulled in last after the ‘main’ campaign is created and either a great opportunity to leverage digital is lost or some sub standard work is created or, worse, they are off creating something different because ‘come on adapting a mass media idea is so lame’.

Because they are run as separate divisions the ability to integrate becomes that much harder.

In my opinion the days of Digital as a separate function are numbered, if not over yet.

Digital is mass media. Everyone needs to know how that medium works and how consumers interact with it.

The challenges of communication remain the same.

Just as no one turns on the TV to watch ads, no one logs on to Facebook to ‘like’ a page.

The brand still needs to communicate creatively, engagingly to get the consumer to act the way desired.

Creating independent divisions is a very expensive, sub optimal way for an agency to work.

If I look back at the TV era the breakthrough came from creative. Once creative understood how TV worked the integration barrier was overcome.

In digital too the breakthrough will come from the creative function.

Digital is a lot more complex. So many options, so much detail and so many metrics.

But fundamentally it is about customer engagement. The role of the digital experts will be about using the creative idea and ensuring that its digital interpretation meets the ability of the medium.

The P&L driven organisation will miss the wood for the trees. The brand driven ones will grab it and run.

One of the most oft quoted successes in digital marketing is Old Spice. And that came from a ‘traditional’ agency.

I know quite a few digital business leaders who want to hold on to their P&Ls and be devoted to their turf protection.

I know quite a few marketing leaders who are fed up with this silo that everyone says is fundamental to business today.

For digital to really grow and become mainstream the silo needs to go.

Which of the majors will bring the wrecking ball to the party?Image

Categories: Uncategorized Tags: , ,
  1. Chetan Ahuja
    June 13, 2013 at 12:50 pm

    It is/was very stifling to work in a traditional agency, had a very bad experience with a past employee who said all the right things but did the opposite once I got into the fold.P&L they kept saying!!

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