In this last chapter about the digital world in Germany in 2016 I don’t want to talk about award-winning agencies (like Grabarz & Partner) or engaging ads (like Jung von Matt for Edeka), but about the struggle both agencies and their clients face in the digital sphere and how to create truly digital campaigns worth their name.
I already covered the state of mind in most German agencies in part I, but would like to elaborate that fact a little bit more. Most agencies and their clients are struggling to digitalize their business and their staff. The respective managing boards have heard of digital media, but are no advocates in using it. Their day-to-day-routine often prevents them from joining forward-moving discussions online or offline, when attending conferences or similar events. So they have to rely on what the media or others say – and you know, that most Germans are no big fans of digital things.
This results in mediocre campaigns, who only claim to be digital. But why? Both in the client and agency world the classic marketing units are beating the drum, while the digital units are still side-lined with less staff, money or internal prestige. The good-old advertising procedure is still pretty much valid everywhere: “We have a product. We need a good TV spot. We put the behind-the-scenes on You Tube. We post the spot on Facebook. We do out-of-home. We put ads in magazines etc”. Some agencies are already pretty good in creating digital noise across different channels and this seems to be already enough for most clients. What they miss, is making digital a priority and the focus of their advertising and storytelling.
Some agencies already know how to step into the future and carry out truly digital campaigns. With the help of freelancers like the Medienlotse (as project manager, content-creator or storyteller) or specialised digital experts like Nerdindustries (who did the Audi Cube together with PuK and won a Cannes Lion) they successfully scale network effects for their business. Unfortunately, there are far less counterparts on the clients’ side than digital-enabled agencies. Additionally, the big advertising spenders from the automotive or energy industry are facing business problems and might cut their marketing spending very soon. Startups, on the other hand, might again (for other cases see Pt. II) be able to carve the way for Germany’s digital future. The deciders are often from a younger, more digital-savvy generation and leading the digitalization in their industries (JvM Sports just teamed up with Sponsoo).
Summary (Pt. I-III)
2016 will be another intermission year for the digitalization in Germany. The government still isn’t fully devoted to creating fast internet connections everywhere or in liberating bans on creativity (copyright and Wifi issues). Agencies and clients face the same challenges and have to become digital virtually overnight in order to save their business for the future. Startups, on the other hand, are still able to escapes those challenges, because they work at the core of digitalization or are developing ideas to overcome the ancient digital infrastructure in Germany.