Answers To The 4A’s Digital Board

By SuperSpy 

If you recall, the 4A’s recently put together a digital board to help guide and implement best practices. Don’t know about you, but the press release left me with a few questions such as how those on the board were selected. So, I went straight to the 4A’s, where President Nancy Hill was kind enough to provide us all with some answers.

1. How were the member agencies decided upon-secret ballot, general consensus-and by whom?


“Like all 4A’s communities, members are selected by the 4A’s. The staff representative of each community-in the case of the Digital Board, it’s Mike Donahue, executive vice president at the 4A’s- assembles a high-level group representing member agencies across the board. The chairs of our various communities have input, but at the end of the day, each member is selected by the 4A’s (with my final approval). No secret ballot, no consensus.”

2. It’s great that there is a digital council at the 4A’s, but why did it take so long to get one?

“Actually, over the past several years, we’ve had a number of 4A’s communities dedicated to digital issues: Digital Management, Digital Marketing, Digital Production, and Digital Video Innovation.

What’s unique about our newly formed Digital Board is that it’s the first digital-focused 4A’s community (or committee, as they we formerly known) that reports directly to the national board of directors. Other “board” communities include Agency Management, Creative and Media Policy, among a handful of others.

Why’d it take so long? Well, with no disrespect meant to my predecessor, digital issues weren’t always at the top of the agenda for the 4A’s. When I joined last year, one of my top priorities was to bring the 4A’s-kicking and screaming-into the 21st century, and digital is right at the top of my agenda.

I’ve spent some time with Bob Greenberg since my arrival at the 4A’s, and he made it clear that the issues that digital agencies face today are unique and require special attention that’s different from the attention that so-called traditional agencies receive from the 4A’s. As Bob has said, the issues between digital and traditional agencies are different today, and that will likely change in the future. But for now, it’s worthwhile for the 4A’s to create a dedicated group to focus on the issues of digital agencies.”

3. Why are there no smaller shops on the list? Some of the best and most cutting digital work is routinely turned out by a slew of digital agencies not on the board.

“The Digital Board isn’t meant to exclude smaller digital shops. Quite the contrary. Our goal in putting together the group was to identify the senior-most people who have worked in the digital space for a while, so that they could establish a high standard for agencies of all sizes.

Since we made the announcement, we’ve been inundated with requests from agency leaders who want to participate. After the Digital Board has convened in the next month or so, we hope to add a few more members. Our intention is to keep the community small, and hopefully circulate different members over the years representing different agencies.”

4. One of the stated goals of the board is to help traditional agencies “better transition to new agency models.” How does the 4A’s plan to offer this help?

“Clearly, digital is having a direct and big impact on agencies of all kinds, and of all sizes. There’s a lot to be learned from the digital agency leaders who’ve been in the trenches and have a deep and clear understanding of the myriad issues that digital brings to the table: from compensation and staffing to training and responding to an RFP.

There’s no denying that the business is changing, thanks in large part to digital, and I know our Digital Board will play an important role in helping all 4A’s members navigate through the complexity of this change and lead the conversation about digital.”