With the launch of this new site, it may seem like we are going against the tide. There's a lot of talk at the moment about the future of digital agencies. Will they be swallowed up into bigger full service agencies? Why are some big agencies pulling their digital offshoots back into the main brand? This post will discuss briefly the evidence of the trend, why we're going the other way, why big agencies are not part of this trend and finally, how we're addressing the possible weakness of this approach.

There seems to be a trend appearing.

  • Rob Morrice commented over at the Drum that soon there would be no such thing as a digital agency. Just agencies that do digital, and those that are about to die out.
  • NMA recently commented at AdTech that they are seeing a shift from digital specialists to agencies adopting a more integrated approach.
  • We're seeing that clients are (finally) considering digital as part of their overall marketing outlook, not a separate division that's the responsibility of the IT division.

Going the other way

So with all of these signs pointing the other way, why have we launched a digital arm of Blueleaf with it's own brand, identity and specialisms? It's a pretty simple answer and it comes back to the argument of deep specialism in a particular area.

We have a growing reputation within the retail ecommerce sector, mainly due to our very successful work that is continuing with Laura Ashley and Next amongst others. The reasons this reputation is growing is because our clients not only appreciate our outstanding customer service, but they also value our depth of knowledge within the home retail arena. Working with these kinds of products for many years, we know the ins and outs, the things to avoid and what to capitalise on, and are constantly learning.

When you add into the mix that we're always looking at new trends that are exploding (Mobile being the big one for 2009/2010) it creates a great proposition.

In our opinion, there has never been a better time to be a specialist in what is an increasingly complex marketing world.

Big agencies can be specialists

It's important to see the other side of this argument. Blueleaf Digital is a small agency and nowhere near the size of the big agencies like your BBH's or McCann's. It's important to note that it is very possible to create specialist divisions within a big agency. Just because they have brought their digital arms back into the fold does not mean they have lost their specialism.

The reason our weakness is our strength

Specialist agencies are sometimes shown to have the weakness of not having the integrated approach a full service agency has. How do we address this, and why is it actually a strength?

We're in the very fortunate position of being supported as part of the Blueleaf group by Blueleaf Creative. This skill set brings the large dose of creativity that is a necessity for a digital agency to possess in order for us to take an overall view of our work.

Secondly, it means that we have learned to work well with other parties. As a specialist, it's much easier for us to fit into an existing marketing and supplier structure without much disruption. We are generally brought to the party for our specialism. We are not a threat to existing agencies or internal marketing/IT divisions, we're just here to help. Big agencies tend to want to take much more of the pie than we do.

Lastly, the first stage of our process is discovery where we gather an overall picture of why we are here and what we are working to achieve, in conjunction with all parties. We believe it is essential to have the full picture to generate the best return for our efforts.

It is our strength to be a specialist, agile agency that can fit in wherever we are required, while retaining the overall direction of everyone's work.


There is no such thing as specialists being better, or full service being better. If you select the right suppliers, either approach can work, and work well. It will depend very much on the individual organisation's business need. The market will trend one way and then the other for the rest of time.