Meet DAN: TBWA fuses digital arms, gets call-up to be global UX hub

Following the worldwide unification of TBWA’s digital operations into the Digital Arts Network (DAN), Whybin\TBWA has announced that its digital consultancies Tequila and Shift  have officially been melded into DAN\Auckland. And in a coup for the local agency, the Auckland arm was chosen to build DAN’s user experience (UX) lab, the network’s global centre of excellence for digital user experience design.

DAN encompasses over 700 digital specialists within the network and is initially rolling out in 18 markets. And its formation creates a formal global structure for how TBWA approaches digital and integration, rooted in TBWA’s Media Arts philosophy that “everything between a brand and an audience is media and that, increasingly, those touch points are digital”. 

DAN will provide TBWA with everything from creative technology and UX through social media and mobile to content, IP, search and analytics. It also includes specialist labs that will serve as centres of excellence in each area of expertise. 

“In many ways this is the culmination of Shift’s acquisition by Whybin\TBWA back in 2007,” says David Walden, chief executive of Whybin\TBWA Group New Zealand. “Shift’s deep heritage in digital platforms combined with Tequila’s award-winning campaign capability will give DAN the best, broadest digital competency in the New Zealand market.”

Shift’s managing director Che Tamahori will lead the new team and says its already strong levels of integration into Whybin\TBWA will be increased, “whilst continuing to offer core digital strategy services directly to Shift’s existing clients through DAN”. 

“Our role as the developers of DAN’s UX Lab is testament to the network’s faith in the quality of our team,” he says. “And of course we now have the ability to tap into other DAN Labs for specialist talent, competencies and IP across multiple markets, for the benefit of existing and potential clients alike.”

Shift was born during the mid-90s and its recent projects have included the award-winning newzealand.com website and lots of work for APN, including the NZ Herald iPad app and the website overhaul. 

Globally, DAN will be led by president Charles Clapshaw, and worldwide executive creative director David Lee, reporting to Tom Carroll president and chief executive of TBWA Worldwide. TBWA’s chief operating officer, Emmanuel Andre, is a key architect behind DAN and will be heavily involved in the network’s set up and marketing to clients.

Global DAN operations are headquartered in New York. Network-wide, it will initially roll out in markets that include Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, greater China, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Singapore, South Africa, UAE, the U.K. and the U.S.A.

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