Sometime in the mid-nineties, the advertising industry identified the need to blend, or “integrate,” digital and traditional tasks within agencies.  Account people, strategists, planners were relatively easy as they focused more on the consumers and the marketing strategy than producing a creative deliverable.  That said, it still took about five years to get there.

Creatives came around later.  Generally speaking, they tend to gravitate toward interesting work that earns them notoriety and is seen by a lot of people.  Prior to 2004/05, the Web didn’t offer enough of this.  An increase in budgets, production value, notoriety, etc started to make the Web more interesting and we saw an influx of traditional creatives actually <i>wanting</i> to learn more about digital.  In most small shops today (under 100), creative teams are handling both traditional and digital assignments.

The one key role which hasn’t seemed to budge much in the last 10 years is that of producers and/or project managers.  I have interviewed hundreds of producers and still find that they consider themselves a “print” producer, a “broadcast” producer or a “digital” producer.  I am having a hard time figuring out why.

One could argue that producers are the most important role to be integrated.  This person sits at the center of a project and needs to manage details across every channel. In most forward-thinking agencies, rarely is the media prescribed at the time the brief is written.  When we start a project and EVB, we have no idea what the final deliverable will be.  It could be an iphone app, TV spot, live event or anything in-between.  It would optimal to have a team of producers who could support, and even guide, creative teams as they develop ideas for any medium.

Falling budget alone should be a force that drives the need for integrated producers.  For low budget, multi-platform campaigns, it is not practical to support a separate producer for each medium.  We identified the need for integrated producers early on as we were creating multi-platform campaigns for clients like adidas and 2K Sports and, frankly, couldn’t afford to multiple producers.  We, maybe unfairly and with limited success, asked producers to play several roles outside their comfort zone.

So, why is it so hard for broadcast producers to grasp digital and vice versa?  I wish I had the answer.