Digital and ATL: lets broker some motherfucking peace!

So here we are in 2011 and the UK advertising industry in the UK is still not quite firing on all digital cylinders.

But that’s OK: these things take time. Rome wasn’t built in a day and all that.

So what we can we do to help the process along?

Well, I think the first step on the road to recovery is admitting you have a problem.

And here it is:

Digital creatives and ATL creatives do different jobs, but people like to pretend they’re the same.

When people discuss the conflation of ATL and D creatives, they do so under the assumption that they are all ideasmiths who happen to work in different media. Alas, this is not the truth.

Digital people might occasionally have what ATL people refer to as ‘ideas’, but the greater part of their job involves process (eg: RGA didn’t win all those Nike Plus awards for thinking the original thing up; they just made it happen, designing the look and system). Check a digi agency’s offices out: they usually have many whiteboards on the walls to explain how the digital consumer goes from A to B to C to D to F to G etc. (and that’s just banner to landing page). This means that they can’t possibly be as dedicated to the idea side of things as an ATL creative. That would be like someone at DDB writing a TV ad and fretting about how the consumer comes through the door of the living room, sits in the armchair, finds the remote, turns the TV on, looks for the right channel, scratches his arse etc. Instead they are concerned only with the idea and its execution – entirely different jobs, mentally speaking.

So this produces a friction where one half thinks the other is not up to the job (that it isn’t even supposed to do) and the other resents being thought of as a bit shit (at something they aren’t supposed to be doing).

Perhaps it would help to rename the digital people so that the expectation and disappointment is not built in to the system.

How about facilitators? Conduits? Executioners? Makers? Processors?

It would make the mechanism of collaboration clearer because people would understand their roles more, tread on each others’ toes less and the sneering and defensiveness might just peter out.

You could even have digital creatives who would be specifically employed only to come up with ideas rather than get bogged down in the minutiae of implementing them.

How about it?