by Herman Manson (@marklives) Ireland/Davenport is expanding its digital capabilities with the launch of VIRUS, its new digital specialist agency. VIRUS combines existing in-house talent with the yet-to-be announced acquisition of a digital agency.

Nevo Hadas, partner at consultancy & innovation, has been tasked to lead the WPP agency’s digital charge. The strategy is being built around three pillars, he says.

Virus logo (Ireland/Davenport)It kicked off with internal training at Ireland/Davenport specific focused on getting account managers skilled in digital. This assists the agency in producing digital work as part of its through-the-line offering.

Hadas says the new generation of creative directors were all born digital, so have needed little training — instead, they are being encouraged to integrate digital thinking into their work.

Focus on content marketing

The second part of the strategy consists of the launch of a new specialist digital unit within Ireland/Davenport. Called VIRUS, its focus initially is on content marketing. According to Hadas, the agency has noted strong growth in this segment as the need for well-crafted and produced visual content continues to rise. The specialist agency will work closely with Ireland/Davenport but intends to build a reputation for specialist digital skills as well.

Finally, Ireland/Davenport is in the process of acquiring a digital agency, with an announcement expected towards the end of the year. The agency, which Hadas did not name, is focused on product development and R&D type work.

According to Hadas, the agency wanted to avoid buying into a digital specialist that offers little more than click-bait content or campaigns launched to pull in additional customer data unlinked to a brand’s core offering.

A strategy that fits

Ireland/Davenport has had a couple of digital misses in the past, Hadas acknowledges, but says it has more been an issue of finding a strategy that fits than a lack of commitment to digital work. In fact, Ireland/Davenport recently had a finalist at the Webby Awards, and more and more digital thinking is coming out in mixed campaigns.

Hadas says Ireland/Davenport has been working on its new digital strategy for about a year. He is excited to see the final steps of the strategy being put in place and to see where its new capabilities take the agency in the year ahead.

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