Campaign reports a story today about how JWT have launched a new arm called ‘JWT Experience’ to focus on technology and interactive. What everyone else is spending their time doing there right now I am not sure – all the pre 1999 stuff?
In principle it sounds like an interesting idea, and I guess they have been inspired by BBH Labs and the success of that, but in this day and age is it a good idea for an ad agency to set up another ‘technology’ department? It’s quite anachronistic, and reminds me of the ad agencies all starting a digital agency in 2000-2002 to ‘do’ digital.
If you look at a lesson from big business, they all set up a digital brand in the early days to safely test the digital territory. Abbey National set up “Cahoot” so people could do online banking and British Gas set up “house.co.uk” so people could submit meter readings. Over the longer term these extensions became a hindrance, as it was the core of the business needed to change. Things were able to happen quicker when you can put a bunch of people together and say you’re the digital guys, but the challenge is affecting the core.
So in a way the development today is good for JWT because it helps slow moving organisations innovate, and the devil knows that JWT is that – but the innovation happens at the edges. For as long as there is a separate department who is responsible for interactivity, rather than it being central to the efforts of the business, it will always be window dressing.