Mainstream agencies make a bid for digital business

David Benady

2009 could be a make or break year for mainstream UK advertising agencies. Total spend on UK internet advertising - dominated by search - is poised to overtake that of television advertising and, in the midst of a recession, bigger agencies face mounting pressure to show that they have the digital skills and mindsets to compete with online specialists.

From BMB's iPint mobile phone game promoting Carling lager to TBWA\London's spoof online sport backing the launch of the Nissan Qashqai, traditional advertising agencies have shown they can display creativity outside television and print. But will the bigger agencies be able to turn out a consistent flow of digital branding campaigns to rival specialists such as Glue, Dare and Poke? Worryingly for the agencies, some brands are dispensing with their long-standing ad agency relationships altogether and bringing in digital specialists.