DDB departs ‘Spaghetti Junction’, next stop ‘Unified Agency town’

You might have noticed that digital is not an ‘other’ anymore. And while a number of the larger agencies have been operating separate digital factions for some time, many of them now appear to be moving digital back to the centre of the agency offering. TBWA\ recently brought Ross Howard in as creative director of Tequila to sit beside executive creative director Andy Blood, Saatchi & Saatchi closed its digital outfit SaatchiDGS this year, and DDB is the latest to head in this digi-direction after merging its direct arm Rapp and its digital arm Tribal DDB, into one, Popeye-esque arm they’re calling Rapp/Tribal.

When Tony Gardner, the G in SaatchiDGS, was relieved of his posting earlier this year he said the unified agency model, rather than the current ‘Spaghetti Junction’ approach, was the way forward, especially as the communications mix became increasingly complicated. It was all about removing silos. And the new Rapp/Tribal agency, which will be headed up by RAPP’s current managing director Robert Limb, appears to have done just that.

But Limb says the merger is about creating new opportunities and a balanced leadership that ‘s focused on growth, not cost cutting.

“We have collectively experienced a surge in digital work from 30 percent to  70 percent over the past six months. Rapp itself has flourished, growing from five people to a team of 40 in just three years. Tribal has grown at an incredible rate too.”

And, on first impressions, it’s a pretty good looking mash up: Rapp was named as one of the top 10 worldwide creative direct agencies according to The Won Report and Tribal DDB just won a Gold Lion at Cannes for the Coastguard ‘Live Rescue’ project.

Tribal DDB head Greg Forsyth resigned a few weeks ago to spend more time with the family. And he told the NBR that he and Limb had been in discussions about a fusion of the two companies over the past quarter.

Limb doesn’t expect any casualties from the merger. In fact, he says there will be five new roles created.

DDB Group New Zealand chief executive Sandy Moore says the move to fuse both direct and digital disciplines into one agency is a natural progression in response to client demands. That is, with everything being split into specialist areas and departments, it’s getting harder to for both clients and agencies to manage the jigsaw.

“This merger will allow us to streamline our direct and digital offerings, simplify processes and make it easier and faster for clients to get what they need,” he says. “As well as providing direct marketing, digital and CRM expertise to its own clients, Rapp/Tribal will continue to be an integral part of DDB New Zealand. Digital expertise now sits at the heart of both DDB and Rapp/Tribal, evidence of the Group’s focus on this area.”

The new beast will have more than 60 staff and a client roster including Telecom, ANZ New Zealand, McDonald’s, Yellow, Cadbury, CIGNA, NZ Lotteries, Loyalty NZ and Wattie’s. And Rapp/Tribal will make final steps on the merger over the next two weeks and announce new roles soon.

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