This is interesting. It seems like it was only yesterday that we were all talking about BBH having won Lynx’ digital business. It was one of the big events like Glue almost winning 3’s advertising. And it made digital veterans like Ian Tate question on the difference between digital and advertising clients.
Their first campaign launch, the Lynx Effect, was called an “agenda setting event” by Clare Beale herself. She called out the planning and striking design in an editorial, and in her column in the Independent made it sound as if the growth of the digital agency was done.
21 January 2008, The Independent
So the new site – www.lynxeffect.com
– is crammed with clever chat-up tools, such as a “fit girl finder” that you can download on to your mobile, and advice like, “Alcohol and chocolate make for a lady-wowing combination”, so click for cocoa cocktail recipes. And yes, there are plenty of sexy pics and the whole thing is beautifully crisp and user-friendly.
But sod what the punters might think of it. The big question in adland is: “Can the non-specialist agencies do digital?” On the basis of BBH’s Lynx work, the answer’s a big, agenda-setting “yes”.
Claire Beale is editor of Campaign
I’m not sure at the time the digital specialists out there were as impressed by the site. Other work like BBH’s launch of an Audi site was pretty heavily critiqued. With a brand like Lynx it is usually easy to make great viral, and interactive campaign sites like Dare’s Feather show it. This site, aside from a great early use of video, is interactive, has send to a friend features and is original.
Brands doing their own video sharing sites like the Linx Effect are dismal and really were only proposed because teams new to digital could say “a YouTube for <insert brand here>.” Or maybe it is the opportunity for junior ad agency art directors to try out their directing skills for the seeding videos. Unfortunately they rarely catch on with the public as Coke found out in a big way. As did Hellmann’s. And countless others.
Of course the bigger question is what happened to BBH’s digital team? Was the big digital build out just a pr exercise? There was a very tight campaign with the reporting on hires like Michelle Stanhope from Glue. And the Linx win just afterwards. Had BBH truly turned the from its break up with Dare? In that case a group of digital experts decided they couldn’t work with the big famous ad agency — even despite BBH owning 37% and having John Bartle himself as non-executive chairman.
I think the answer is that “learning digital” and integration is harder then people expect. This article from the Times gives a nice view — and has a great quote that explains it.
Consider BBH’s Executive Creative Director’s quote here:
The Times – 13 May 2007
John O’Keeffe, executive creative director at BBH, is sceptical that there is anything unique about digital marketing skills. “There is a very, very simple truth to all this,” said O’Keeffe. “Nothing is more important than the idea. The people who espouse the view that [digital specialists] have some kind of technological advantage are diminishing in number. It’s just not the case.”
He added: “The technology is functionally very simple. It’s not difficult to find people who can press the right buttons. What’s difficult, and what’s always been difficult, is getting people who can have a great creative idea.”
I can’t say I know John O’Keeffe but I think I’ve met a number of people like him. Ideas are very important — but unlike a print ad, in the digital world the idea is only the beginning. And in the same Times article, the journalist hits the real point. The client’s point of view.
Unilever’s Alan Rutherford sounds less certain that the technical skills are easily acquired. He said: “We’ve given BBH the Lynx account to see if
they can get up to speed on digital.”
Unilever awards Lynx digital account to TMW
– Unilever has appointed digital and direct agency TMW to work on the
digital marketing account for the Lynx brand following a pitch.