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Honesty ditches separate digital roles in favor of integration

Art direc­tors and copy­writ­ers at online adver­tis­ing agen­cies could find them­selves fus­ing their tra­di­tion­al strengths with cut­ting edge dig­i­tal skills if a deci­sion by the Swedish shop Hon­esty becomes a trend.

Despite the dash to dig­i­tal among agen­cies over the last few years, Hon­esty has just announced the abo­li­tion of all its dig­i­tal roles.  The aim is to encour­age all staff to feel respon­si­ble for all aspects of the shop’s cre­ative out­put, irre­spec­tive of whether it’s des­tined for a mag­a­zine, a smart­phone, a TV ad or Face­book.

One roof for all

In a state­ment, CEO Wal­ter Naes­lund remarked, “Today we’re upgrad­ing Hon­esty 1.0 to ver­sion 2.0, and in doing so we remove all dig­i­tal roles from the agency.  It just does­n’t make sense any­more to have sep­a­rate staff to han­dle a sep­a­rate area which is inher­ent­ly impos­si­ble to sep­a­rate from any­thing else. Instead, all roles at the agency will approach their work from a dig­i­tal and mobile perspective.”

Naes­lund went on to say that the main focus of Hon­esty 2.0 will shift from its ear­ly forte of fus­ing new tech­nolo­gies with tra­di­tion­al adver­tis­ing (everyone’s doing that now) to har­ness­ing the vast­ly improved speed of the inter­net for mar­ket­ing.  To this end, big orga­ni­za­tion­al changes have been made to zap bureau­crat­ic iner­tia, so that sto­ry­telling, strat­e­gy, adver­tis­ing, design, pro­duc­tion and PR will hence­for­ward be under one roof, over­seen by one cre­ative team and one strate­gic account direc­tor.  Out go sep­a­rate roles like dig­i­tal direc­tor and dig­i­tal producer.

Can it work?

He believes this inte­gra­tion will improve speed appre­cia­bly and deliv­er bet­ter results much faster for clients (and at keen­er prices).

With few­er than 50 staff, how­ev­er, Hon­esty has its rel­a­tive­ly mod­est size on its side.  Such a swift inte­gra­tion would almost cer­tain­ly be vast­ly more dif­fi­cult to accom­plish for adver­tis­ing colos­si like BBDO or JWT.  Its poten­tial suc­cess is based on the assump­tion that client-mar­ket­ing struc­tures have evolved suf­fi­cient­ly along Honesty’s path to pre­fer its tight­ly inte­grat­ed approach.  Cur­rent­ly, many employ dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing exec­u­tives to liaise with their coun­ter­parts in dig­i­tal ad agencies.

Naes­lund, how­ev­er, is almost bull­ish­ly opti­mistic and believes that it’s only a mat­ter of time before his mod­el is adopt­ed across adland.  Is he right?  Only time will tell.

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