Embracing creative opportunities presented by the mobile phone is the gateway to global success for Australian digital agencies, newly installed chairman of the IAB Awards, Russ Tucker, has told B&T.
Tucker, whose day job is national digital creative director at TBWA/Digital Arts Network, took over the role as chief representative of the digital awards in late March and has been the driving force in the repositioning of the event to “digital creativity that works”.
Speaking with B&T, Tucker stressed domestic agencies could better gain global recognition by leveraging Australia’s massive smartphone penetration and creating work which innovates the mobile experience.
“Historically we’ve always been less brave with clients and that’s been changing over the last three or four years.
“A lot of things changed when smartphone technology was adopted really early by Australians. A lot of the work starting to come through is made up of really digitally integrated ideas that are optimised for mobile consumption and I think we are really starting to lead the way in that space.
“Because we’ve got such a high number of smartphone users I think the work is starting to reflect that. Australia is quite unique in that sense,” he said.
Specifically he refers to projects like GPY&R’s “Mobile medic” campaign – the first medically diagnosable advertising created for the Australian Defence Force which saw iPhones and iPads used as diagnostic tools – which won four Gold Lions at Cannes last year, as well as a silver and bronze at Young Guns International Awards.
But one thing holding the local industry back is the lack of money clients are willing to invest in creating advanced digital strategies.
“In this market we don’t get massive budgets and often that becomes a huge challenge for an agency to put forward strong digital ideas because a great digital idea often means quite a lot of investment from a technology point of view.
“There seems to be a problem where a lot of clients pump a lot of money into reach and frequency campaigns rather than into technology or digital creativity,” he said.
With the IAB Awards approaching, Tucker says this year’s event will be focused more than ever on work that shows results – “digital creativity that works”.
“I think some clients see awards as an ad industry thing where everyone pats themselves on the back about how clever they are.
“While most award shows are based on whether something was a good idea, at the IAB Awards 30% of the mark is based on whether it worked from an effectiveness point of view.”
This year Tucker is ensuring that all the case studies provided by applicants can be shared with the greater industry.
“If you take a macro view on that it then means everyone in the industry can take those case studies, look at the them and then take some of the learnings out and apply them to their own brand. That’s where it’s getting really useful as a way of sharing knowledge throughout the industry ultimately to make the work better.”
The purpose of awards in the end is advancing the work, after all.
“Our mission is really to make clients to make braver work in the digital space. A lot of the work that ends up being what we would term as ‘digital’ is quite standard display stuff that supports a much larger campaign.
"We still need to use those sorts of communications but we are seeing really thought through integrated pieces of work that are digitally led which are starting to become mainstream.”