Nike dumps Wieden for Digital Marketing

The Wall Street Journal reported today that Nike is dumping (registration required) their main Ad firm Weiden + Kennedy to search for a firm with more digital savvy. This is a great article and further evidence of the shift in reaching customers digitally, and more importantly in a two way conversation.

Here are a couple of very interesting quotes from the article:

Industry executives say the move was a wake-up call to Madison Avenue. The message is clear: No matter how talented an agency’s creative team or how well the client’s management likes the firm’s executives, the agency is of limited value unless it embraces digital media.

It’s surprising to me that the need to embrace digital media is new news for those that serve advertisers. The issue is the problem is about more than just embracing digital … it’s about embracing a new marketing paradigm – marketing as conversation rather than the traditional marketing as one-way messaging.

“The thing is all these things look good on paper but so did communism,” says Matt Freeman, chief executive officer of Tribal DDB, the digital arm of Omnicom Group’s DDB Worldwide. “At the end of the day it’s all about who is in charge. … Traditional ad people are in favor of integration as long as they are in control. It still comes down to who reports to who and egos.”

Communism? I think the quote can be taken out of context, so I’m not going to go there. However the point on who holds the power in these agencies is poignant … a word to the ad agency industry (if they desire to keep their clients’ business in the shift to digital): read Clay Christenson’s book The Innovator’s Dilemma.

I’ll place a bet that the industry will miss this disruptive shift ….

^ brian

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  • Katie

    I think that the problem is not just that the agencies dont involve with digital, but more that the marketers, advertisers and agencies dont understand what digital is..or does. There is no consistent understanding or appreciation.
    I totally endorse your position that it enables ‘conversations’, but this must be the most scary thing to the traditional marketers and agencies: no longer is it a case of pushing out a piece of communications, measuring it, and then sitting back till the same time next year. The ‘new paradigm’ means that much more work is involved: creating meaningful experiences/ entertainment, then finding ways to measure impact, and then, developing an ongoing rapport with those consumers who are ‘bothered’: not just a paradign shift- its a whole restructuring job- which has yet to be proven

  • Thanks for your comment Katie. I agree with your points, and think you make a good case for why this is an “Innovators Dilemma”. The combination of a true restructuring as you say while the new model is still yet to be truly proven (even though we can reasonably tell that it will be proven) creates an incedibly challenging dilemma for the incumbents (namely the agencies in this case).

    While the marketers and advertisers will remain challenged, eventually service providers that “get” and generate value in the new paradigm will emerge.