A new direction for Digitas: how it hopes fresh leadership and perspective will drive growth

Digitas shakes up its creative leadership.

No agency or network is immune from the seismic change happening in the industry but, being a digital specialist, there’s a foundation to build a story around digital transformation. For Digitas the new story is around ‘Truth, Connection, Wonder’, which it hopes also translates its creative and purpose-led DNA too.

After Digitas chief creative office Chris Clark departed the business in April this year, Ronald Ng stepped into his place. In Asia Pacific, the agency has forged stronger ties with network siblings Arcade, with founders Matt Cullen and Gary Tranter being handed chief creative officer roles for the APAC region.

With the dust settling on the changes, Ng tells The Drum, “What that has done is it's really united us as a network. Coming together and talking about the way forward and using ‘truth, connection, wonder’ definitely has given us a North Star in terms of how we can work through the power of data, technology, media and creative.”

“I think we have a very clear purpose right now as an agency. A purpose that's modern, a purpose that's driven by creativity, a purpose that's driven by real human behavior. That's observation through data - that encompasses everything that we do here. That sets us apart in the industry as an agency,” he says.

In Asia Pacific specifically, the Arcade point of view will now be very much among Digitas, as the agencies become one in the same location. Both Tranter and Cullen started in bigger agencies and founded Arcade in order to fufill a want to do their own thing, they are hoping having this diverse perspective will help drive the best ideas for Digitas clients.

Tranter explains, “We've come from very traditional start point but I think that word modern is everything. We've done what we can to exploit our big agency background and start our own agency, so we see, in a very kind of real way, the changes of the industry. That word modern, I think that this word's so exciting, it's the rebrand - which is that ‘truth, connection, wonder’, but there's also this real commitment to this as a creative initiative now.”

Being part of Digitas opens the creative talent of Arcade to even more technology, and with that, an even closer tie to data and data-led creative. This is something that excites Tranter about the next stages of the agency.

“We've come from this traditional agency where it's been purely about the creative alongside strategic insights, which is largely lousy guess work. I think what's exciting about this is whether you're looking at the data or looking at media, it takes out the guesswork out of that strategic diagnosis, and it therefore becomes irrefutable,” he explains.

For Cullen, the fact that a creative idea can some from varying parts of an agency business is the exciting next step.

“It's a natural evolution. To change from this sense of gravity, to one that an idea’s birthplace is no longer the creative department. It's where you literally sit as a team but now we have these media guys that talk ideas, and you've got data guys and they're not talking data, they're talking ideas, and you get all these guys in a room and it's electric. That's also where you start to have opportunity to uncover solutions for clients that are not sitting on a conveyor belt, where the brief waiting. They can spark from anywhere at anytime. That's what people are looking for,” he enthuses.

As the agency recruits in the future, this ‘deliberately collaborative’ culture in which all parts of the mix are required to generate ideas, the type of talent needed will need to also evolve. Ng calls this new type of talent ‘cross brain’.

“There's so many opportunities when you look at the creative landscape right now, we definitely look for what we call ‘cross brain’. We definitely look out for creative people who have a passion or for media, technology, and it's vice versa, our media teams need to have a batch of creativity, the same with our data team, they need to not just be scientists, they need to be scientists with an artist's soul,” he says.

Digitas and Arcade have now moved into their new space together and it’ll take a while to know whether the story of a new ‘deliberately collaborative’ approach around ‘truth, connection, wonder’ will attract clients. However, a fresh perspective for an agency during a time of change can be invigorating and it’s clear this new creative leadership have the energy to fight for its place.

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