Last month TBWA, one of the top ten global advertising agencies, zoomed in on the digital media space by forming Digital Arts Network (DAN). DAN is as the agency claims is the “unification of TBWA’s proven digital talent, encompassing over 700 digital specialists within the network.”
When announcing the launch of the new entity, Tom Carroll, president and CEO, TBWA Worlwide had said, “We made a conscious decision three years ago that we needed to build a strong, integrated digital proposition within the TBWA network, from the bottom up. Since then, we have been nurturing our digital talent throughout the network and building something unique. Digital is a huge part of our present and our future. We are confident that we have a robust, global digital footprint with the talent, the clients and the award wins to prove it.”
The HQ is in New York, because “New York was a natural choice for the main hub of the Digital Arts Network. There is great energy and entrepreneurial spirit in the city around digital, an ever-increasing start-up community and a large presence with some of our biggest media partners, such as Google and Facebook. Even the city itself is investing heavily in digital,” as Caroll put it. DAN now has offices in Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand. This is part of DAN’s strategy to have offices in 18 locations globally in the first phase.
DAN works around TBWA’s media arts philosophy, and creates the digital touch points between the brand and its audience.The core competencies of DAN include creative technology, UX, e-commerce, social media, content, mobile, IP and platforms, analytics, search, audience behavior and production. DAN is being lead by Charles Clapshaw as president and David Lee as executive creative director worldwide.
Carroll continued, “Increasingly, our global clients are asking us about our global digital capabilities and it became clear that, while we clearly had some great talent and skill sets out there, it was hidden behind a network of different brands from region to region and office to office. As a network that prides itself on collaboration, it made sense to organize our digital properties into one cohesive network and benefit from having strength in numbers and shared competencies.”
In fact all the existing digital properties and departments within TBWA offices have been rebranded as part of DAN. First such rebranding has just taken place with TEQUILA and Shift Digital in New Zealand. The two will be merged into DAN Auckland; which was chosen to build DAN’s user experience (UX) lab – the network’s global centre of excellence for digital user experience design. Shift’s Managing Director, Che Tamahori, will lead the new team. “We’ll be further increasing our already strong levels of integration into WhybinTBWA, whilst continuing to offer core digital strategy services directly to Shift’s existing clients through DAN. Our role as the developers of DAN’s UX Lab is testament to the network’s faith in the quality of our team. And of course we now have the ability to tap into other DAN Labs for specialist talent, competencies and IP across multiple markets, for the benefit of existing and potential clients alike.”
However, local TBWADAN operations will operate as part of the local TBWA office. Within the TBWA network, there are eight specialist labs that will retain their current identity and serve as centres of excellence in each area of competency. The labs are complementary to the network and will serve to add or bolster capabilities to local offices, when needed.