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All marketing is digital.


I’ve recently had the opportunity to make a move from my role at Proximity to become the Global Digital Planning Director for Gillette. This new position is at BBDO in New York City.  I leave behind the titles social media consultant, strategist, etc, to focus on what I think is needed for the next chapter of my career development – a better understanding of business objectives and strategies, and an answer for my insatiable appetite for famous creative.

My time in social media has taught me that this is not a channel; it is the very definition of the web. It’s only marketing and media people that need to name it and define it. I believe it’s inevitable that the term “social media” will come to pass and in time we’ll opt for a phrase that spans total integration into the marketing mix. In other words… ideas that work at driving persuasion and influence over all media; ideas that will align to consumer behavior, and with a little luck and a lot of insight, change it.

I’m no longer interested in the notion of ownership of social media amongst communication disciplines. If I were a client, I’d put my agency up for review if it had such a small-minded interpretation of this universal medium. A claim for social is like a claim to voice or image… ridiculous. And so the lines blur between PR, advertising, digital, CRM, in-store, events, and sponsorships. Agencies that can’t, won’t, or refuse to execute any initiative in digital without consideration of the social potential are simply doomed.

My biggest take away… a universal truth is born:  all digital is social in nature. As print goes online, television goes app-based and gaming goes to the cloud, another truth is born: all marketing is digital.

Digital has sat at the “kids’ table” since the beginning, but now? It sits at the head of the table. Next year’s budgets are beginning to emerge… 30-40%, even 50% going to digital. But how can it be that the head is not the majority of budget?  A client once told me… “I’d pay more for digital but I don’t need too.” And guys like me start to belly up to the adult table to offer our experience, our insights and hopefully some wisdom.

A fond farewell to my friends, my extended family, my country, my collegues a I embark on new and exciting adventures as the Global Digital Planning Director for Gillette. The ship sails the first week of August.

Rest assured… we are still at the beginning.



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9 Responses to “All marketing is digital.”

  1. Jordan Says:

    Congrats on the new gig.

    I’m sure you meant this post to be altruistic, and to be taken with a grain of salt; but you should be aware that statements like “all digital is social” and “all marketing is digital” can cause unpleasantness if taken at face-value.

    The reality is that there’s a lot of digital that isn’t social, because it isn’t marketing. Consider a financial services platform.

    Also, not all digital should be social (at least not “social” in the commonly used sense of integrating with one, or more, social networks.) I HATE seeing friends clutter up my stream with a notification that they’ve bought a bbq from sears.

    I won’t touch on why all marketing is not digital, but it’s not – nor will it ever be. I think we’re reaching a tension-point where (like an elastic) we’ll feel some bounce-back to traditional ways of communicating, outside of the digital realm. Banner blindness, signal/noise ratio, spam, and search gaming are all contributors to moving away from the screen.

    I think the majority of deep thinkers will understand the spirit of what you’re saying; but keep in mind – it’s blogs like yours, that uninformed people read to get informed. Those people will take what you’ve suggested at face-value and may misinterpret the meaning. They might even evangelize your idea – steering their organization down a dangerous path.

    Although aspirational, I’d aim for clarity regarding what you’re trying to say. Maybe something more like – All marketing should be built on a digitally enabled idea, and if you exist within the digital realm you need social guidelines, because people talk & share with each other.

  2. collin Says:


    a couple of points of clarification.

    I wrote: “all digital is social”
    Sounds like my definition of social is broader than yours… i’ll save that for another post

    and “all marketing is digital”
    I certainly wouldn’t claim that all digital is marketing. That would make me vomit.

    As for the rest I meant to say what I did.
    Thanks for comments!

  3. Parker Says:

    Great post, Collin.
    I’m sorry that we didn’t get a chance to connect more while you were in Toronto (pretty much across the street, I think!) but I’m looking forward to hearing about this next stage of your career.

    Good luck in NY!

  4. collin Says:

    Thanks Parker. Keep in touch!

  5. Kelli Pippin Says:

    Congratulations Collin on the next chapter in your career! New York will be happy to have you.

    We thank you again for coming to Tuck to speak about social – your insights remain among our favorite lessons. We will have the written overview of our entire series, “The Business of Social: Engagement, Innovation and Collaboration” available soon. (In print and digital, of course.) You should receive your copy soon.

    Thank you again best of luck.

  6. Donna Papacosta Says:

    Sounds exciting. Best wishes to you in my favourite city!

  7. Patrick Says:

    Congrats Collin! Hopefully you will keep posting to this place.

  8. The Social Media Stage | The SocialWork Blog Says:

    [...] All marketing is digital. [...]

  9. TV Production Says:

    A lot of people in our industry haven’t had very diverse experiences. So they don’t have enough dots to connect, and they end up with very linear solutions without a broad perspective on the problem. The broader one’s understanding of the human experience, the better design we will have.
    TV Production

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June 8th, 2011