Do traditional creative agencies get mobile? Does it matter? Part I

See Part II for comments on this debate from the forums.

mobiThinking is told repeatedly by mobile specialists that traditional agencies have been slow to embrace the mobile channel. This goes a long way to explaining how rarely traditional agencies pick up awards for mobile campaigns. [Check out the Webby Awards, MAMA Awards or MMA Awards]. This must change if mobile is going to become a staple of brand marketing.

“Growth [of mobile marketing] is held back by the traditional agencies that, either due to ignorance or fear of new media, discourage their clients from mobile marketing. They don’t integrate mobile into the marketing mix and keep clients in the dark about the potential of new technologies,” so says Mobile Dreams Factory’s Alberto Benbunan in The Insider’s Guide to Mobile Marketing in Spain.

Benbunan is referring to Spain, but it’s a comment that’s commonly echoed – see, for example, TigerSpike’s opinion in our previous Australia guide.

On face value this would appear to be good news for the specialists. It has provided the perfect window of opportunity as the pioneering brands came direct to the young agencies to run their mobile campaigns. It has helped to fuel the stellar growth of mobile agencies around the world – many, including Spain’s Mobile Dreams Factory and Australia’s TigerSpike, now have operations worldwide.

Long term, however, if mobile is going become a permanent feature in every brand’s marketing and communication arsenal, it needs the support of the traditional agencies. So when conservative companies ask their marketing agencies about integrating mobile into their latest campaign (perhaps fuelled by the recent hype around the iPhone), it is essential they are given the correct advice and, most important, encouragement.

The good news is that things are changing. Some of today’s greatest advocates for mobile marketing within the traditional agencies were yesterday’s cynics. Take Ogilvy Group vice-chairman Rory Sutherland SEE THIS INTERVIEW, for example – mobiThinking was pleased to hear him evangelizing on mobile at a recent MMA event in London – who admits being a recent convert to the cause.

Far from being competitors, mobile agencies and creative agencies make great partners, as witnessed by the excellent United Nations’ Voices campaign from The Hyperfactory and Saatchi&Saatchi. The mobile agencies have the technical and creative expertise – based on years of campaigns – to add the essential mobile element to what Mobile Dreams Factory calls an integrated, 360-degree marketing campaign.

When a traditional agency chooses not to partner, there is the danger that clients will miss out on the potential of mobile or, worse still, may end up wasting money on a hype-driven campaign that speaks only to a minority audience.

Do traditional agencies get mobile? See Part II for comments on this debate from the forums.

Related materials:

  • Five-minute interview: Rory Sutherland, vice-chairman, Ogilvy Group
  • The insider’s guide to mobile marketing in Spain
  • The insider’s guide to mobile marketing in Australia
  • And don’t miss:

  • The Top Ten mobiThinkers 2009
  • mobiThinking’s page of essential links
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