The Drum Awards For Digital Industries Line Phil Jones

Who’s the DADI?

By The Drum, Administrator

July 6, 2007 | 7 min read

The idea was simple enough: Create a land where people pay to live without the luxury of belongings or fripperies. But for Ben Keene and Mark James, two would-be entrepreneurs, the implementation, however, was more difficult. MySpace and Second Life both happily housed users who just wanted to swap opinions and chat, however James saw that there was untapped potential for a site that combined commercial common sense with the community feel so desired by social network sites’ users.

Newcastle-based design company, Komodo Design, had met with Keene and James through Madventurer, a website aimed at people taking a career break. Keene, in fact, launched, and had appointed Komodo to work on that, so the design company seemed a natural fit.

The idea of the site, which won the Grand Prix and also Most Innovative Project, was effectively to create a ‘timeshare’ on an island. Keene and James sourced an island, Vorovoro, which is based off the coast of Fiji, and tasked Komodo with coming up with a brand for it.

“We had one week to come up with idea of the stylish parchment, but we knew that the brand design had to be inspirational,” says Komodo’s Andy Greener.

The Komodo team was briefed in the early part of 2006, with the site itself launching in August 2006. The initiative was such a fledgling project, that there wasn’t a budget in place for the design project. “We got paid at the beginning, but it didn’t cover the hours that we put in to get it up and running,” says Greener. “As the project got bigger, the operating costs of the island had overtaken the costs of running the website.”

Tribe members sign up for a basic ‘nomad’ membership of £180, which gives them a year’s membership and 7 nights’ stay on the island; a £360 ‘hunter’ membership which is valid for two years’ and 14 nights; or a ‘warrior’ membership for £540, valid for three years and 21 nights. The fee covers a connection to the island from the nearest main airport, food and sustenance but not travel insurance, international flights or carbon offset costs.

Governing of the island is done by a democracy, with all the 1194 members having access to a private area of the website, and being able to vote a new ‘chief’ in. Island members can all vote on island business, with different threads on the forums dealing with everything from food to sustainable tourism. Although only 100 members are allowed on the island at any one time, nearly all the members have visited and maintained a connection with the island.

Komodo Design has no financial interest in the company, other than from a philanthropical view of its purpose. One of the design company’s biggest challenges was developing the intricate applications, which are bespoke to the site. “The Tribewanted project demanded rapid turnaround due to unprecedented interest from the media,” says Greener.

From an ethical stance, the Tribewanted site doesn’t have any commercial interests, although a few companies have bought membership for their staff. Vodaphone Fiji is the mobile partner, although Greener is quick to point out this is more in ‘spirit’ than currency. “The site remains unaffiliated to any particular corporate body,” he says. “Vodaphone has worked with Tribewanted to give internet coverage to the island, and work with them on communications difficulties.”

The site’s evolution will come as the project grows. There is now a full time web developer based on Vorovoro and there are plans to incorporate further community tools. “We’ve built the brand and the technology – now it’s being handled by the tribe,” says Greener.

With a BBC documentary planned for September, and podcasts and videos already circulating online, it can only be a matter of time before the four-strong Komodo team ups sticks from Newcastle and moves to Vorovoro. “Unfortunately not!” says Greener. “Although we’ve been invited many times work commitments have not as yet allowed us to ‘escape’.”

Edinburgh-based Line was also one of the main winners of the night, scooping four DADI awards, including Agency of the Year.

Line’s founder and MD, Ross Laurie made his name turning from a brochurewear site to turning over £60k a month. Meanwhile, he launched First Tuesday, growing its reach to 150 cities before selling up in 2000.

A true entrepreneur, he helped launch and co-founded Long-Lunch, which he has just, last month, stepped down as a director from.

Originally known as Laurie Templar Knight (LTK), Line was launched in April 2003 and quickly picked up work from Vodaphone and the Home Office. After just over nine months of trading there was an obvious need for more digital work than LTK had the capability for, so Ben Ausden and Andy Massey (formerly head of technical development and head of digital design at Navyblue respectively) joined as directors. In the summer of 2004, the agency re-branded and re-launched as Line taking the decision to focus solely on digital.

Since then, the agency has continued to grow quickly working for clients, including AEGON, Scottish Life, Royal London, BBC Worldwide, Edinburgh International Film Festival, Turcan Connell, Shepherd and Wedderburn, Craig & Rose, CCL Compliance, BDG McColl and Boudiche.

Line also added to its senior management team, hiring client services director Malky Brown, formerly head of digital at IAS Smarts, bringing staffcount up to nine full-time staff, with two more to come in the next month.

In October last year the team management team completed an agency buy-out from parent company Future 19, allowing the team to determine its own future.

Four Awards, including Agency of The Year…

a busy year, then?

It’s been a frantic year but I think this is the same for all digital agencies – we’ve all seen how quickly the swing to digital has happened, particularly in the last 18 months, and it’s nice to see our hard work and foresight is being rewarded. We now have a solid base of financial services, professional services and ecommerce clients and we will continue to build on this base to establish ourselves as the most effective digital agency in the country. Well, that’s the plan.

Digital has moved from being an afterthought

to one of the first pieces of the marketing

jigsaw. How has this impacted on the industry?

This has always been the case with the top marketers as they’ve had the confidence to do what they think is right rather than follow the crowd. These people have now proved it works as an effective tool for launching products, acting as a hub for integrated campaigns, increasing sales, attracting and retaining customers and improving internal efficiencies. It’s all trackable, so the only people who should be worried are those who don’t have confidence in what they do. There’s nothing clever being done – it’s all about effective use of marketing spend and the internet enables this to happen in real time (with no arguments).

Web2.0. User Generated Content. Blogging. Will

marketers ever be able to control this area??

Blogging is just another form of communication that has been enabled by the web. Personally, I don’t subscribe to it as I have better things to do with my time than read someone else’s diary but, for the right brands, it can be a tremendously effective marketing tool.

As Agency of the Year, what is the ‘secret of

your success’?

Belief in what we do. Cashflow. Our people.

Do we nurture our digital talent?

There is a shortage of excellent people in ALL industries. The big shortage in digital at the moment is in technical developers. Any good agency needs at least three or four of these and they are very hard to come by. There’s big competition up here from big financial institutions who can afford to pay more and offer more benefits, so you really need to offer people something extra in order to attract and retain them.

The Drum Awards For Digital Industries Line Phil Jones

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