This is the age of the full digital-spectrum agency

The Brand Republic digital awards shortlists not only show the diversity of content being created but, as Zone editor Alistair Strayton discusses, how agencies are producing work that runs the gamut of the digital spectrum…

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Right, let’s get the trumpet-blowing out of the way… we were nominated in seven categories during the marathon tweet-a-thon that was yesterday’s  Brand Republic digital awards  announcement. And looking at yesterday’s  list of nominees  what's most striking is the diversity of agency, and work.

Even looking at the Agency of the Year shortlist the variety is impressive. On the face of it there are some real specialists in there – agencies in what would traditionally have been seen as well-defined but narrow backgrounds such as social, data, experiential and media planning.

But delve into the work for which we’ve all been nominated, and the picture is far less clear. Look at the impressive Knit  commission for Lucozade  (which was delivered alongside TRO). A branded experience saw amateur football teams play in an artificial environment created to match the infamous sauna of Manaus where England would play in the World Cup, with their physical and performance data recorded through a variety of means, ready for them to share on social.


OK, so it was essentially an experiential project, enabled by tech, but social was a critical component. This was a multi-discipline project that really got what the brand was about and broadcast that proposition in a highly effective way… the kind of work that, not so long ago, would have been the sole preserve of the ad agency.

The story is repeated throughout the nominations. In a previous era you could have gone through a list like that and known who would be in which category before you’d even read it: ad agencies producing great ads or a web design shop making great portals. Now, you have agencies and in-house teams producing work that touches upon disciplines across the digital spectrum.

Just look at the different kinds of  hires  agencies are making, or the way (at least in our case) the walls between disciplines have been broken down to enhance collaboration on projects, with the likes of tech, UX and creative sitting alongside each other in project groups, as opposed to in different departments.

Last year  our CEO Jon Davie wrote  about how, as an awards judge, it was difficult to categorise much of the work being assessed because it touched so many parts of that spectrum. And yesterday’s nominations show that that’s the same of agencies.

Ad Age recently asked some of the great and the good of agency-land:  should the traditional full-service agency be resuscitated?  I don’t know about the full-service agency, but the full digital-spectrum agency is alive and kicking. In fact, it’s everywhere.