Digitas is Collaboration, Digital Advertising and New Talent

Image Credit: Digitas Photos via Flickr

So maybe creative directors at Digitas don’t drink vodka at their desks like in Mad Men, but at least Miller Coors is on tap in the agency’s kitchen.

Ad Age ranked Digitas number 13 on their Best Places to Work List for 2012 so the work hard play hard mentality has served the agency well.  Over the last six months, the Publicis owned agency won two major accounts including Sprint (1.4 billion in ad spending) and eBay (25 million in digital ad spending), according to Ad Age.

Expands Scope of Clientele

After a lengthy pitch process which began last fall, eBay chose Digitas’ Chicago office to handle its digital media and digital creative business.

eBay’s North American CMO Richelle Parham worked as a senior VP and general manager at the agency for 12 years, according to Ad Age.

Both parties were kind of shocked when Sprint’s CMO Bill Malloy replaced longtime agency Goodby Silverstein & Partners with Digitas in December, 2011.

“The announcement about Sprint’s new agency not only came as a complete surprise to its agencies such as Goodby, EuroRSCG and Mindshare, but also to certain members of Sprint’s own marketing team that weren’t made aware of the impending shift until late in the game” according to Ad Age.

Maloy knew the president of Digitas Chicago Tony Weisman who leads Team Sprint. The two attended management classes at Northwestern University together in the 1990s.

To accommodate these new clients, Digitas hired a surge of new people. Now the agency employs more than 3,000 staffers spanning 19 different countries

Kristin Scheve, a media supervisor at the agency said “the industry is always changing… there’s a lot of flux to deal with.”

To accommodate the new business from Sprint and eBay, the agency added a whole new floor of space to their Chicago office, according to Scheve. Digitas is faced with the challenge of maintaining its original culture while still growing, she said.

Image Credit: Digitas Photos via Flickr

Collaborative Work Atmosphere

Many advertising agencies aim to create a collaborative atmosphere for their employees. But only a select number of agencies achieve that goal.

“An idea is an idea no matter who it comes from” Scheve said.

Digitas’ Detroit office developed an initiative called “30 Ideas in 30 Minutes,” where employees break into groups to brainstorm new business concepts, according to Ad Age.

“Digitas commissioned Torchia Architects to turn wooden pallets, a shipping container, and other salvaged materials into an inspiring space on the 11th floor of a downtown Chicago building. This colorful mixed-use office space is further enlivened with urban graffiti and color to create an environment that is ideal for manufacturing cutting-edge ideas” according to architecture blog inhabit.

Image Credit: Digitas Photos via Flickr

Room to innovate is also supplemented by flexible work schedules, and social areas with pool tables and basketball nets. Extra perks include new-hire cocktail parties, chili cook offs and a merit system to reward talented workers.

Digital Leader in Advertising

It’s no secret that Digitas positions itself as a thought leader in the digital space. Blog Ads crowned the agency King of SXSW, because they sent 79 employees, more than any other agency, to Austin this year.

This week many of the top digital outlets will band together to try an old TV tradition. Within the next several weeks YouTube,Yahoo, AOL, Hulu and others will promote their programming by pitching to advertisers.

“By taking a page from TV, the Digital Content NewFronts, as they’re called, hope to showcase increasingly high-quality Web series and convince advertisers that digital video deserves more of their attention” according to the Washington Post.

Digitas created the NewFronts and organized the founding partners Google Inc.’s YouTube, Microsoft Advertising, Hulu, Yahoo and AOL.

“What better time to showcase it than three weeks ahead of the television upfronts?” says John McCarus, senior vice president and director of brand content at Digitas. “It’s driven by the budget cycles from a marketer’s perspective. This is the time of year they’re starting to think about how their dollars are going to be spent” according to the Washington Post.

Invests in Current Employees and Emerging Talent

When asked what sets Digitas apart from other agencies, Scheve said that the agency seeks to advance their employees. This is accomplished through performance reviews every six months and supporting staffers in continuing their education.

The agency develops emerging talent through programs like Digitas University and frequently invites prospective candidates for informational interviews, according to Scheve.

“It’s all about investing in employees and in the industry. We want the best of the best to come to Digitas” she said.

Digitas held its first-ever Digitas University Open House at the New York office in early January.  More than 125 upcoming and recent college graduates from 32 universities visited the office to hear Digitas executives speak honestly about their career paths. Attendees received one-on-one attention from around 60 Digitas employees spanning various disciplines.

Some students discussed internships and full-time opportunities with recruiters from the agency.  Five raffle winners chosen at random won six-month mentorships with a Digitas executive in their field of interest.

“Digitas University is one of many representations of how the agency aims to uncover talent well-versed in and passionate about the digital marketing, media, technology, and creative aspects of advertising” said Jamie Griblin, a recruiting manager at Digitas.

What They Look for In Talent

Hiring managers at the agency seek talent with “ambition, drive, passion and a positive attitude,” said Scheve. It’s important for students to have a point of view, research the company beforehand and come with questions, she said.

Be ready to explain how you can apply your skills to a specific role at the agency, even if you worked at a flower shop.

And most importantly “Don’t be afraid to use your connections… that’s how you get your resume to the top of the pile” according to Scheve who’s worked at the agency for two years.

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