It’s Time to Break Up the Team

(The latest in a series by Nate Archambault on traditional vs. digital agencies.)

After two large projects and a handful of smaller ones, I’ve seen what digital looks like beneath the surface. I’m always working with different people. With different skill sets. I’m not working with the same art director day in, day out. No one is. Creatives aren’t split up into teams. We’re all individuals, manning our own chosen specialty. Every project is a revolving door of pixels, wireframes, code, calls to action, looks, feels, copy decks and dark roast. Every project has different creative needs. Different creative wants. Calling someone my “partner” may be great for confusing my family at Thanksgiving dinner but it’s not great for executing digital.

It’s time to break up the team.

Teams have made sense for a long time. Lots of great work has come from an art director and copywriter concepting together, bouncing ideas off each other. That’s one way good ideas become great ones. But the traditional team has a few holes. Every digital project has a different scope, requiring a different set of talents. It doesn’t make sense to handcuff one creative role to another. Some projects are design-heavy, requiring multiple designers but only a few quick consultations from a writer. Others need to be populated with content, requiring little design but a boatload of words. Like this Snickers microsite. All it needed was a Snacklish translation for every word in the English language.

Digital creative departments are stocked with more than ADs and CWs. There are graphic designers, information architects, experience designers and motion designers. Plus specialists in mobile, social media, strategy and tech. People are still bouncing ideas off each other, but it’s not a two-person match. Team chemistry has been reformulated. Now the creative department feels more like dodgeball. Everyone has a chance to be a gamechanger. In print or TV, stories are told through visuals (art direction) or messaging (copywriting). Art directors and copywriters have the monopoly on where ideas came from. But in digital, tech can drive the idea. Cool technology can be synonymous with great execution. Take last year’s launch of the Volkswagon GTI. AKQA created a mobile app to promote the car. That’s it. No paid media. Just cool technology. The launch was a huge success. And the two Silver Lions it won last week aren’t thanks to a CW/AD team locking themselves in an office for three weeks.

I still work with partners. But now I work with a bunch of them. Different ones every project. Monogamy isn’t always the answer. It’s time to embrace the creative orgy. Come prepared, ready to party and open-minded. The next big idea could come from anyone.

4 thoughts on “It’s Time to Break Up the Team

  1. Thanks ever so much for your link, Emily. There are so many breakups in the world of advertising, this is very, very, very, very, very relevant. Wishing you all the best on getting back your man.


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