It All Seems So Simple

Since first featuring in the pages of Creative Review back in July 98, Digit has proved one of the interactive industry’s survivors. Having recently reached the ripe old age of ten, we invited them to share some pearls of wisdom that have seen them through good times and bad in a decade of “new” media

Research & Development.
R&D is vital. It is what keeps you moving forward. At Digit, people are allowed to spend up to 10 per cent of their time on innovation and experimentation, a process that has spawned some amazing breakthroughs and memorable projects.

However, beware using the latest tech just because it’s available: we have learned from previous projects (and a few burnt fingertips) that it is often better to use established and proven technologies in new and surprising ways.

Consumer Intuition. 
A decade ago we were thinking and producing consumer propositions that seemed quite sci-fi in nature. New technologies promised much, but only the museums and art galleries could commission such conceptual thinking. Today that heritage and consumer-inspired thinking is craved by commercial clients anxious to inspire, surprise and reward their audiences with experiences that move people. Just look at the Nintendo Wii and how it immerses its players, and think back to the last museum you went to where there wasn’t a broken digital exhibit – commerce is now squarely the place to go to deliver the interactive goods.

Evolve & Thrive. 
When managing cashflow is a daily chore, when getting work in is a relief rather than a pleasure, when you see your mates’ companies go under in a blink then you know what hard times really look and feel like. It’s a cathartic experience which stays with you forever – it makes you wiser, hopefully humbler and very focused on the future. You’re only as good as your last piece of work after all….

Diversity. 
Employ a diverse range of people from different disciplines, and different walks of life. As well as programmers, designers, client services and planners, our team at one time or another has included theatre designers, cinematographers, illustrators, photographers, musicians, promoters and psychopaths. If nothing else, it keeps studio life interesting.

As well as doing what they’re paid for, when we last checked Digit’s employees were also busy burning the midnight oil on their own projects including sitcoms, interactive stories, club nights, and the launch of some Indian sausages called Bangras.

Global Stage. 
Getting into bed with WPP was a once in a lifetime experience – a bit like losing your virginity to the devil dog in The Omen….Being part of the Group has forced us to invest time educating our advertising peers. We are so engrained in the digital world that we often forget that for those who aren’t exposed to it or feel that comfortable with it that it is seen as a bit of a “black art”. We think we’re winning the war, but it’s a long hard battle.

Opening up in New York was made much easier by the Group companies already there. Some of these agencies were already aware of a few of our projects, so getting invited to work collaboratively on briefs with them was a nice endorsement and a rapid education to boot.

The Bottom Drawer. 
As well as developing projects for clients, it’s important to set aside time and budget to develop your own projects internally. Often these ideas never make it out into daylight and remain locked away but not forgotten. In our own case, the virtual product table, pixel porn, the condensation mirror and our flux capacitor may never see the light of day, but they’re an important part of Digit’s culture, and every once in a while one escapes from the bottom drawer.

Magic Moments. 
As the window of opportunity in which we can talk to consumers gets ever smaller, for a brand or organisation, the moment of interaction should matter just as much as a strategy or a big idea. It’s no good having a fantastic ad campaign if the moment of interaction on-line or in-store fails to deliver. Today’s consumer will walk away, or edit you out of their lives.

IP – the key to a New Order.
Creating and protecting your own intellectual property and methodologies can influence your future from within. By doing it, you can produce work directly for clients and ensure your place at the same table as your advertising and media friends, rather than waiting for the crumbs to fall to the floor….

IP enables us to evolve our client relationships so that the value of our R&D is reflected in the commercial terms we offer, and also protects us if a client doesn’t want to fully exploit a particular idea or campaign.

Simple. Human. Interaction. 
This is our strapline. It is an acknowledgement that the industry we are in is about people, not technology. Putting people first not only prevents us from getting ahead of ourselves and being too techie, but also ensures that we create interactions which are meaningful and successful. It took seven years of being Digit on a day to day basis to realise that this is what has enabled us to stick around for so long.

Future?
From boom and bust to Web 2.0, the digital landscape has changed immeasurably over the past few years. Just like 1998 the world again seems a place of limitless possibilities showcased by the get rich rapidly folks from YouTube and MySpace. Giving free rein to creativity alone cannot be the answer. It’s always been about answering communication challenges and today digital creativity (and, we hope, Digit too) is rightly at the heart of the communications universe, which is an astonishing leap from the industry’s experimental beginnings a decade ago.

www.digitlondon.com


 

 

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