Give them heart – David Moffatt & Mark Tomlinson
David Moffatt doesn’t get called a rock star just because be designed a WordPress theme. The guy actually rocks as lead guitarist of indie rock band The Dirty Skirts when he isn’t running his digital agency HelloComputer alongside business partner Mark Tomlinson. Together they have created what quite a few people refer to as one of the hottest indie digital specialists around.
HelloComputer strives to make technology more accessible to the rest of us because it sees technology is an enabler rather than an end in itself. In fact their tag line states “We make Digital more Human.”
By applying classical marketing principles to the digital environment and using creative ideas enabled by technology the agency builds sites aimed to appeal to end users – and they seem to be succeeding based on the three daily FWA (Favourite website awards) they claimed over the past twelve months. The agency is increasingly well known for the quality of its digital craftsmanship while the FWA’s has attracted international attention, including collaborations with Crispin Porter + Bogusky and Mother New York.
Tomlinson says the agency works primarily with premium brands that are leaders in their segments. Clients include BP, Continental, Musica and Vodacom. HelloComputer is fully independent and has a staff compliment of 32. The average age hovers at 27.
Interestingly Hello Computer is following a business strategy radically different from many of their peers in that they are seeking less engagement with traditional ad agencies when many of their rivals are looking for closer associations. They believe clients increasingly see the value in specialist digital agencies, especially as direct relationships remove additional ‘management’ mark-ups by ad agencies. It makes them financially competitive and skirts “fundamental structural issues” many ad agencies face according to Tomlinson.
Moffatt agrees in the value a focused and direct relationship with clients produces. At HelloComputer they work on a partnership model, says Moffatt, which appeals to clients. And where they do enjoy good relationships with ad agencies they expect dual credit. “We take pride in our work,” says Moffatt.
Tomlinson was a founder of Generator New Media Communications in the early days of the commercial internet. Moffatt joined to head up Account Management and Business Development. Generator shrunk from 20 staffers to 6 after the dot bomb. Tomlinson later sold the business to pursue a different creative vision and moved on to launch HelloComputer in 2005, which Moffatt joined in 2006.
For Moffatt digital is the new direct marketing – it’s all about initiating and maintaining relationships. This means the guys don’t think short term – they talk to clients about three to five year plans.
Ultimately HelloComputer aims to inject soul into the digital experience. A cold layer of tech might impress some, but these guys want heart, and at HelloComputer they believe you will find it.
First published in Squeezeback.