Updated: TBWA Expands Digital Ranks

NEW YORK TBWA’s new group of global “digital artists” will ensure that the agency’s 267 offices have the best talent and operational structures to execute digital campaigns, according to worldwide chief digital officer Colleen DeCourcy.

Also, when needed, specialists from the group, known as TBWA\Digital Arts, will also tackle client briefs directly, DeCourcy said. All told, TBWA\Digital Arts — part of the Omnicom Group agency’s Media Arts practice — will have about 10 executives, the first of whom were revealed on Twitter this week.

“We can give [ideas] to other offices and help them staff and deliver them. We can sit with the CEOs and CMOs of our global clients and pull together a team — kind of like (Adidas dedicated unit) Riot — that’s best for them across our whole network and lead the charge on the strategy,” said DeCourcy, who described the group as a “docking station for the rest of the network” and TBWA’s new approach to digital efforts as “the most pointed arrow.”

TBWA posted word of the first hires Thursday on a new Twitter account dubbed “digitalartists.” More hires are expected next week. Each exec will be based in New York and report to DeCourcy.

As of Friday, the group included:

• Hashem Bajwa, digital strategy director at Omnicom’s Goodby in San Francisco, who’ll assume the role of executive director of strategy and innovation.

• Scott Witt, a creative director of digital media at Droga5 in New York,
who’ll become executive creative director of media.

• Ben Abramowitz, worldwide senior digital officer at TBWA, who has shifted
to director of creative technologies.

• Jonathan Stern, chief operating officer and partner at Local Theory in New
York, who’s now executive director of operations.

• Howard Pyle, creative director and partner at Local Theory, who’s
executive director of creative services.

At Droga5, Witt was part of the team that developed and marketed the innovative but ultimatedly ill-fated HoneyShed, a shopping Web site that David Droga billed as “QVC meets MTV.” The site shut down in February after failing to meet aggressive traffic targets and after co-investor Publicis Groupe declined to invest more money in it.

Before Droga5, the 33-year-old Witt held media posts at Publicis Groupe units Denuo and Starcom MediaVest and Omnicom’s Organic.

Bajwa, 28, had worked at Goodby since 2005. Before that, he was at Interpublic Group’s McCann Erickson.

Abramowitz, 32, joined TBWA in February after serving as a creative director at Riot — the Amsterdam-based unit that TBWA created to win Adidas’ global digital duties last year. Before Riot, he was an associate cd at Omnicom’s EVB in San Francisco.

Stern, 39, and Pyle, 35, launched Local Theory — a online content developer and integrator — in late 2006 after creating a mobile/online community known as Yellow Arrow. Local Theory is now winding down its operations.

This story updates an earlier item with DeCourcy’s comments and details about additional hires.