When top creative agencies tell clients to skill-up in mobile, brands will react, but where will they find the skills?

You know change is afoot when the movers and shakers from the most respected advertising and marketing agencies are preaching mobile.

It has been a point of frustration for pure-play mobile agencies that a) they can’t get near the decision makers at the top brands, and b) the creative agencies that have the ear of the big brands haven’t been pushing mobile. That’s changing fast as mobile evangelists, such as Saatchi & Saatchi’s Tom Eslinger (latest interview), rise rapidly through the ranks at the big agencies and those already at the top, such as Ogilvy’s Rory Sutherland (previous interview) become converts to the cause.

Eslinger’s pitch to clients is interesting: he doesn’t sell mobile per se, he packages it as part of an integrated outdoor [billboard] campaign. He admits the pitch raises eyebrows, but it works. But then when the results get international acclaim – as with the UN Voices campaign – is anyone going to argue?

The part of this interview that really made mobiThinking sit up and listen, however, was Eslinger’s message to clients (as well as to the internal teams at Saatchi & Saatchi): “to train and skill-up in mobile”. He advocates recruiting people who not only understand, but are also excited by mobile.

Now that’s fantastic, but it begs two questions:
1) Do we face a skills crisis in mobile marketing as more and more brands (and agencies) seek to appoint experienced mobile strategists and technologists? (It’s noteworthy that Eslinger describes mobile skills as “precious”).
2) And what’s to be done about it?
Initiatives such as the MMA’s newly launched Certified mobile marketer program will surely help, but to what extent can courses make up for lack of practical experience?

  • The interview: Tom Eslinger, digital creative director, Saatchi & Saatchi Worldwide.
  • What do you think – is it a double-edged sword? Are there enough skills to go round? Comment below or email editor (at) mobiThinking.com.

    P.S. (09-02-10) Thanks to Martin Wilson from Indigo102 for including this post in the latest Carnival of the Mobilists, a weekly roundup of the very best in mobile and wireless blogs.

    And don’t miss:

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  • How top football/soccer clubs engage fans with mobile
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  • mobiThinking guide to mobile ad networks (2010)
  • Conferences & awards for mobile marketers, with offers
  • The Top Ten mobiThinkers 2009 – each profiled in full
  • mobiThinking’s page of essential links
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