Category Archives: A Digital Perspective

Doom: Agency-land and the holy grail of digital integration

We’ve all been there. Back against the wall, holding your sawn-off shotgun, waiting for the next agency to walk through the door.  It’s like a game of Doom in death match mode where it’s every agency for them selves.

It’s time to enter the boss level. Digital is waiting for you.  There can only be one winner.  You quickly punch in I-D-F-K-A.  You’re armed. Let’s go.

Every agency is fighting for a piece of “digital” these days. It doesn’t leave us in a good place.  We’re fighting over digital strategy, social media strategy, content production, communications planning, analytics, CRM, mobile strategy, mobile apps, training, workshops, consultation, end-to-end delivery, who’s logo goes first on the power point. How did we end up here? Who’s going to win? We’ve all got the same cheat codes.

As Catherine Hornby (head of digital strategy at McCann) points out, it’s the legacy of agencies, not clients.  We’re all playing Doom while they’re playing ThemePark.

All clients, agencies and your sanity wants is an integrated approach.  But collaboration is hard. And that’s okay.  Breathe.  Yep, I said it, collaboration is hard; you compromise, your ego suffers, but hey – we’re not saving lives, so relax a little.

Integration, collaboration and working together. Sounds wonderful on a powerpoint presentation, sounds like your suddenly playing Viva Pinata. Hard in real life, but here’s a great point of view on how it can work (better):

Be nice to each other.

Luxury, fashion, beauty & digital

A Digital Perspective – Taryn Williams, WINK

This month I’m talking to Taryn Williams, Managing Director of WINK. Between asking for my first modeling shoot, I’m consistently impressed with WINK and their narrative on the beauty and fashion world around us.

A beautiful website, a great story.  Our relationship is purely digital.

How has digital and social technologies changed the model, fashion and beauty industry? Tell us about your own journey, and how it’s been shaped through these elements. 

When I started modeling social media was all my friends and I all trying to read latest edition Vogue at the same time! It’s amazing to reflect on how things have changed so much in so little time.

We have all heard the stories of a young models being “discovered” at a local mall by an agent. But these are one in a million and often more urban myth than real. In the past if you were not with an agency you really had no way of getting your name out there. In the digital age aspiring models have access to audiences that they simply did not in the past. Whether that audience is an agency staffer, media publications, corporate executives or the public at large, access to an audience that can “discover” you is irrefutably much, much broader. That is the opportunity for the model.

From an agency side I would make a couple of observations.

Firstly the power that was previously been wielded by large established agencies has been eroded. The lower costs of establishing an agency, in so many ways facilitated by digital technologies, has seen an increase in the number of smaller start-up and challenger agencies. And being challenger businesses these new companies are often happy to lower their margins, be unconcerned with exclusivity contracts or simply increase the supply of models into a market of relatively flat (arguably diminishing) demand. This is good news for companies that are procuring models but bad news for the status quo agencies. The established players have a decision to make, embrace changing markets and adapt or face the kind of annihilation that the music industry has experienced since the widespread adoption of digital technologies.

On a personal level WINK has been able to challenge established agencies for reasons such as these. At the most simplistic level we are able to supply a high quality product being great service and talent, quickly and efficiently at a lower cost. Add to this the experience and sophistication that WINK staff have from years in the business, then for a buyer of our services it’s a pretty compelling argument.

The other point that I would note is that like the individual model, our business – through the adaption of digital platforms and predominantly social media – has the ability to market ourselves very quickly and for almost no cost. Show me a person who doesn’t like to look at models shot beautifully and I’ll show you a liar!

Digital and social technologies quite simply have allowed new businesses such as WINK to compete with the big boys (and gals!). We are super excited about the future not defending the past.

TED Talk | Rory Sutherland: Perspective is everything

Here’s a couple of videos on perspective. Something you may have noticed I am quite the fan of.

and if you really enjoyed that. here’s another

B&T: 30 Under 30

Super, super chuffed to be named in B&T’s 30 Under 30 leaders of tomorrow. And big congrats to Ben Hartman who was also named.  Ben heads up the Athletes and Personalities division of Octagon (sister agency of Weber Shandwick).

Massive props to all who were announced.  I’ve tried to grab the contact details for you all – where possible – but please give me a shout on Twitter or email if you think we should all buy each other a beer or three! ;)

Gual Barwell, director Asia Pacific, Contagious Communications, 27
Aaron Beashel, director of marketing, Launchpad6, 22
Matt Berriman, general manager and executive director, CC Media, 27
Rebecca Bezzina, group account director, Mark, 29
Ashley Brown, national head of digital communications, UM, 29
Stefan Burford, group strategy director (outgoing), MediaCom, 29
Jacob Burke, projects director, Best Group – Signage & Visual Concepts, 25
David Campbell, creative director, Fnuky, 28
Lindsay Chappel, director, GMR Marketing, 27
John Cinquina, managing director, Red Meets Blue Design, 28
Jeremy Ervine, general manager, Fnuky, 29
Brendan Fearn, head of marketing, Play Communication, 29
Steve Fontanot, director/creative director, Chieftain Communications, 28
Sam Geer, strategy manager, MediaCom, 24
Adam Griffith, managing director, Get Started, 29
Ben Hartman, director athletics and personalities, Octagon Australia, 28
Marcus Johnston, art director, Droga5, 26
Landon Kahn, marketing manager, Todae, 24
Chris Maloney, marketing manager – personal financial services, HSBC, 29
Mitchell McBeath, search director, Reprise Media, 26
Lauren Oldham, head of online & mobile, PHD, 29
Elliott Risby, owner/creative director, Design Royale, 29
Emma Robertson, head of activation, Mindshare, 28
Craig Somerville, general manager/director, Reload Media, 22
Alice Stratton, director, Proteus Connection, 25
Jason Tonelli, general manager, digital centre of trading & investment, Aegis Media, 29
Lachlan Williams, communication strategist, Razor Group, 27
Jacki Wong, sales development manager – sections, Fairfax Media, 28
Eb Yusuf, Melbourne strategy director, OMD, 28

Sabir Samtani: the blurred digital line

Sabir Samtani, REBORN

The big future of digital questions

Jye: This month sees the return of A Digital Perspective – the original interview style questions this blog was founded upon.  For some years now I’ve known and worked with Sabir Samtani – founder of the hottest digital agency today (they have the awards to prove it), REBORN. It’s been a real pleasure to work with someone who you learn so much from, and at the same time, have many, many laughs with.

Sabir, in my opinion, is a part of new breed of digital agencies: he – and his business partner David Easton – represent a new, straight forward approach to digital thinking and high calibre agency.  We’re all in this together.


  • Who looks after a clients overarching strategy?
  • Who manages their social media?
  • Who leads the ideation?
  • Where does search fit in?

It’s these questions that most agencies will put their hand up for and rightfully so, as the digital offering continues to get blurred across digital, above-the-line, media, pr, social media, search and content agencies. PR agencies now offer social media, media agencies now offer creative & search, digital agencies now offer an integrated approach and above-the-line agencies now offer everything…so who leads with the client and its the very nature of this situation that makes it so important for agencies to work together ‘collaboratively’ to ensure that they achieve their clients objectives as one team.

Although used quite freely, ‘collaboration’ is the key to ensuring a successful relationship. Starting internally within each agency, its important for teams to work collaboratively and everyone at the agency to have a say. The idea should be a discussion that takes place across various departments with the strongest, most relevant idea put forward, irrespective of who comes up with it.

For most of us, the bigger collaboration issues occur when each agency has a different vision for the same client . In an ideal world, the client and their agencies (above the line, digital, media and PR in most cases) would work ‘collaboratively’ to deliver successfully on the same objectives. As the responsibilities and offering gets blurred as the world moves further into the digital space, its an area that is getting more difficult to manage as everyone fights to lead the big idea and overarching strategy.

It’s important to a client that their agencies work together towards that common objective. When it comes to digital, a significant percentage of clients are not so savvy and they depend on their agencies to be experts.

When specialists from different channels can collaborate on the same objective, its going to eventually lead to better result for the client…and that’s what its all about at the end of the day…a happy client!


Becoming digital

A digital perspective

I’m approaching the twelve month mark here as the digital strategist at Weber Shandwick.  Andres Lopez-Varela one of our senior consultants, has been pinnacle in educating, executing, and leading integrated digital projects working with clients like Symantec, Red Bull,  and Pfizer to name but a few. For me personally, it’s been quite a journey from the head of social media into the world’s largest PR firm. Andres too is on a journey, he shares his digital perspective with us today.  Follow him @hackjack also a reminder we have a position open as a digital account manager.

Andres Lopez-Varela

When people ask me what I do for a living it’s not as easy to answer this question as it used to be. I used to say to them “I’m in PR, I have some tech and entertainment clients and it’s great”. Nowadays I have to think about what I want to say in response to that – I’m one of those ‘digital-traditional-types’, if we’re talking about labels.

It’s been quite an interesting journey which, to be honest, has taught me as much about my professional skillset as it has the discipline of communications. Audience insights, conversation analysis, creative strategy, workplace leadership and channel planning. These are all skills that I’ve found myself stocking up on as part of a broader toolkit of communications skills over the past couple of years because of my transition from traditional to digital communications. In fact, it’s actually turned out to be a real schooling in broader practices and, as a result, I’ve actually become more of a communications practitioner as opposed to just a digital person.

Digital communications has opened my mind up to a whole new way of thinking about how we communicate with audiences and how we develop insights about these audiences in our day to day work. Although I sometimes jokingly tell my mates that my work is ‘talking to the internet’, it’s actually quite comforting to see how the shift in this communications channel (to pick one of many words), has been reflected in my change of focus from traditional PR practitioner to digital stormtrooper. It’s a total ‘victory for Gen Y moment’ and it gives me some comfort, even on a tough day at the office.

This shift has also helped me focus my creative skills as much as my digital ones. It’s immediately apparent when you open up your mind to developing ideas that are channel or platform agnostic, that you are suddenly able to draw out the truly ‘best ideas’ with far greater ease than if you were thinking specifically about, say, a radio, TV or online campaign. The first and most important step for developing a digital strategy, in my opinion, is developing the creative idea based on an understanding of how your target audience is communicating online.

Thinking like this has, for me, converted ideas development from a fluffy cloud of concepts into a process that informs and drives everything to the point that PR practitioners can now truly make their results tangible and accountable. No more number of clips or fudged advertising value, but real impact on business outcomes and audience perceptions. This is the real metric for communications and being able to take this from the digital realm and integrate it with traditional PR creates the most real justification for the existence of the discipline of Public Relations. Ever.

So, really, when somebody asks me what I do for a living, the answer may not be so simple. But, what I do know for sure is that when I go to work and commune with the internet, I feel as if what I’m doing has some purpose in this big, messy, electronic world.

A particular thanks to Jye Smith who has been one of the greatest teachers and mentors in this area for me. He’s blown my mind open to always consider new possibilities when communicating with people and how to really make an impact on the brands and businesses we’re working with.

- Andres


A Digital Perspective: 2010 Review

Site stats and growth for this blog

Every year I review 12 months worth of analytics data.  Overall, this has been a good year for growth (about 65%) and I feel my writing has become a little stronger thanks to an army of friends and colleagues. Continue reading

Number 26 in Australia’s best marketing blogs

Top Australian marketing blogs

2010 Top 50 Australian Pioneer Marketing Blogs

I’m super excited to announced that I made into JC’s top 50 marketing blogs for 2010 – along with many of the bigger plays like B&T and Mumbrella. Along with digital heroes Marky P, Big Gavin and KFC (Katie Chatfield).

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Ian Rumsby: Black holes and digital

Ian Rumsby

Unfathomable potential of what could be

It’s not the darkness of a black hole that we find compelling. It’s the unfathomable potential of what could be on the other side.

And that’s the answer I got as to why the chairman of Weber Shandwick, Ian Rumsby, brought a picture of a black hole to my most recent workshop.  Where I asked all the participates to visually describe the internet.  Ian also wrote a great piece on social media for The Australian.

For me, it is one of the most compelling answers I’ve had and has given me plenty to hink about since. So I asked Ian to elaborate.

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Ben Phillips: 5 Twitter mannerisms and how they’d appear in real life

Digital mastermind, Ben Phillips, has penned a few thoughts about 5 Twitter mannerisms and how they’d appear in real life. What’s your take? Any more to add?

Ben is long overdue to A Digital Perspective and is an exceptionally down to earth digital strategy bro. He’s also got big hair and skates a lot. Ben can be found a luxa house.

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