10and5 interview with Mark Tomlinson


The Loerie Awards are only a few days away! We interviewed Mark Tomlinson, a founder and executive creative director of award-winning digital agency, HelloComputer. Mark is one of the judges for the digital Loeries and explains a little of what goes into the judging for these categories.

Between 10and5: What do you think the reason is for the decline in digital entries this year when online ad spend has increased?

Mark Tomlinson: I think many of the Digital Agencies are looking to improve their bottom line, much focus has been on new and larger client acquisition. I believe most independents are trying to build value in their entities, and whilst creativity is certainly a core skill, they are turning work out faster to meet these financial targets. This means the standard of work might not be what we are used to in previous years where the focus was on producing the best creative product.

10and5: In the past, campaigns consisting of both traditional advertising and online elements have caused controversy by being submitted under the advertising agency’s name over the digital agency’s name. How should these campaigns be entered?

MT: We are supporters of collaboration, so obviously we like to see both agency names in lights. The days of outsourcing and hoping no one will find out are gone, and really the smaller shops who are doing great work deserve the credit. A dual entry is the only real way forward.

10and5: In your opinion, should a digital Loerie entry be judged as stand alone or should it’s effectiveness be judged by how it fits in with a campaign as a whole?

MT: We have strict criteria when judging, but all work is judged within its category, with relevance. There are categories for specific digital skills, such as craft, where an entry can showcase a more specific skill, and there are opportunities to enter in categories which embrace all aspects of a campaign, including digital. I think this has proven an effective method in awarding work.

10and5: What are South African digital agencies doing right?

MT: We are dynamic, hungry and I believe quite cost effective.

10and5: And what do they still need to work on?

MT: ATL integration, big ideas, and Craft..Craft…Craft. How often do you hear of SA agencies winning an FWA?

10and5: For a digital agency, is there a different feeling winning a Loerie award as opposed to winning a digital award such as a Bookmark, a FWA or a Webby?

MT: Yes, all are excellent accolades, however I believe WEBBY, and FWA to be on a different level. I personally took years to attain an FWA, as there you are competing with the world’s best in digital, many who have little of the limitations we have around bandwidth and budget, although that’s not an excuse for not producing excellent work. Winning a WEBBY honoree was fantastic, the judges include people like: Matt Groening, Richard Branson, David Bowie and my personal favourite Alex Bogusky of CP+B whom HelloComputer worked with on the BCYCLE project. It’s safe to say WEBBY and FWA gave us a whole different feeling of goodness 😉

Thanks for your time and insight, Mark. And best of luck to all the digital Loerie finalists!






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    Check out http://hellocomputer.posterous.com/29139992

  2. Great post Alix, always nice to get some insight that otherwise wouldn’t have been available.

  3. Dropping the quality of creative work in the pursuit of profit is really not an excuse for producing poor quality work. At the end of the day clients are paying a premium for creative expertise and agencies that show clients the A team, but use the B team to produce the work are guilty of misrepresenting themselves to clients. In this scenario the client is better going off to a proper development house to have their work produced, then using a “creative” agency that’s actually pulling the wool over their eyes. At least they will have a sound technical platform and not some low key unqualified developer producing a project.

    These kind of ethics within the digital industry are one of the reasons that so many client feel burnt after dealing with a digital agency. Agencies that use this modus operandi should be exposed for who they really are. Doing this will improve the integrity of the industry and encourage clients to invest in good creative work, which will ultimately result in better profits for all.

  4. Hi Ben, I think Mark was very clear when answering the first question. He says,” This means the standard of work might not be what we are used to in previous years where the focus was on producing the best creative product.” Emphasis on CREATIVE. This does not mean work of a poor standard but rather work that is not the type of product that is usually entered into a CREATIVE award such as the Loeries. This doesn’t necessarily mean that work is not up to scratch or that the client is not happy with what they are paying for. He also never says that the reason for the decline in entries (which was the question) is because sub-standard creative teams are being used on jobs that should be award-winning.

  5. Hi Alix. I really don’t want to get into a flame war with you over this. To be honest your answer doesn’t make any sense what so ever. If agencies are targeting clients with bigger budgets then the time budget on a project should be bigger. More time should equal a better level of work. But he clearly states that agencies are now trying to get work out faster.

    “new and larger client acquisition”
    “they are turning work out faster to meet these financial targets”

    So in his opinion agencies are chasing bigger budgets but turning out work faster in the interest of profit. That something that not in the best interest of a client. They come to digital agencies because of their expertise and its not a clients job to know what qualifies great work. If they knew that, then they would do the work using internal teams. At the end of a day, a client can still be happy with work that’s sub par from a creative point of view, but as you know ignorance is bliss.

    So its simple don’t call yourself a creative agency if you’re not producing the best possible creative work. Cause creative agency implies the idea that a client is buying the best possible creative solution. Obviously profit is important but if you are selling creative solutions, then it should be at the core of your ethos.

  6. I don’t usually like anon comments, but because of where I work I have to, I’m just gonna throw this out there.

    pot calling kettle black.

    As you were.

  7. Woah. Breathe kids, or at least raise your game to this sort of level: http://www.27bslash6.com/time.html

  8. Thanks everyone for your comments, as usual we appreciate all perspectives.