Global digital marketing agency DEPT® won our Webby Network of the Year Award last year for its wide success across all categories honored in our competition. They won 16 awards and garnered 23 nominations and 24 honorees at the 26th Annual Webby Awards.
Their work has been monumental in showcasing true innovation with digital technology. We spoke with DEPT to explore what pushes them to continue creating projects that leave many inspired.
“When you work with DEPT® we create first-moving digital products, services and campaigns that help you stay ahead of your competition,” they told us.
DEPT® describes themselves as “pioneers” because their work challenges digital tech’s limitations. They make a point to recognize the heavy implications the word holds, saying that they’re not using the term as a blueprint, but as a lesson to be learned. To DEPT®, being a pioneer means pushing for innovation–but it’s also a reminder to be intentional and thoughtful about the impact their work is having on the world.
“We encourage our team to take risks, go left when others go right, and hold our values of drive, humbleness, and courage close to their heart,” they said. “Because when we pioneer we unite the world, solve problems for everyone (not just for a few), and embrace creativity to bring new ideas to our clients’ problems.”
These values have always been at the heart of the work they do, but it’s been higher on their agenda in recent years. After a group of employees forced DEPT® to think deeply about their purpose and impact as a global digital agency, they decided to integrate social impact into their very foundation as a business. This led them to become a Certified B Corporation in 2021 as a part of their The Good Company initiative.
Becoming the Best Agency in the World by Being Intentional
Technically, social impact has always been an important part of their work as a global agency. But because of this initiative, they’ve set out to make social impact projects bring in at least 15% of their total revenue by 2023. They’ve also pledged to support purpose-driven organizations by using 1% of their total profits from 2022 for donations and pro bono work.
This widens the scope of work they can do and the clients they can work with. They are the only global agency that works 50% in marketing and 50% in technology. This business approach combined with their social impact focus has allowed them to work with a broad array of organizations. They’ve worked on creating a digitized platform to teach American Sign Language in partnership with The American Society for Deaf Children, as well as on rebranding and bringing a fresh look to classic athletic gear company Wilson.
And working with such a wide range of clients is incredibly important to DEPT®, as they’ve described themselves as an agency that is “big enough to cope and small enough to care.”
“ To us, a diverse client roster allows us to positively impact both local communities and culture on a global scale. We’ve always tried to work with clients with whom we are value-aligned. We have the scale to work for any brand in the world, but we have the culture and ownership model of a boutique agency.”
DEPT® is highly focused on creating digital content and marketing solutions to help brands across the world stay connected to culture. They’re also focused on cultivating meaningful and long-lasting relationships with their clients as it not only dictates the level of innovation in the work they create together but also because they want to learn from their clients.
“It’s this spirit of curiosity that to us, helps our clients stay ahead. As a company and as individuals we never want to stop learning, experimenting, and trying new things,” they said. “That is where innovation lives and we’re happy to have the opportunity to participate and inspire progress.”
It’s also important to DEPT® that they work with clients that are working on solving “the challenges of today and tomorrow,” and on reimagining consumer journeys on digital platforms. This is why they work hard on finding clients that are prepared to do the work on improving their brands as the process calls for honesty and transparency.
As they said, “We believe in the power of honest and open conversations during the vetting process. Creativity and innovation demands empathy and the understanding that the process will never be a straight line.”
DEPT® 2022 Global showreel
What Kind of Culture Does DEPT® Foster?
They also added that they search for clients that are prepared to hold them accountable through the process and clients that are willing to share the responsibility of creating a safe working environment. And creating a healthy work environment is something they prioritize in their internal structure as well. Within the past seven years, they’ve grown exponentially–from 150 employees all in one country in 2015 to over 3,000 in 18 countries in 2022.
“Growth is always exciting, but it’s also challenging to maintain a strong culture, deliver consistent, high quality work and integrate new teams effectively,” they said. “We’ve created space for our team to ask the hard questions, and more importantly we answer each question honestly.”
Working across 18 countries is not an easy task–especially in the middle of a global pandemic. They’ve noticed a difference in the attitudes their different regional teams have about going back into the office as COVID regulations decrease across the globe. But they make it work.
“We’ve adapted our business to service the needs of each region. The core behind our approach is trust, we believe in our teams to deliver on time and we expect them to never compromise in delivering incredible work. So far, we’re delivering.”
What is DEPT® Most Excited For?
Aside from talking about some of the challenges they’ve faced, they also aired upcoming digital tech they’re excited to work with.
They’re excited about creative automation, a streamlined method that brands can use to keep up with increasing demands from the consumer side to make their experiences more personalized. This allows DEPT® to combine data-focused marketing strategies with the creativity of tech to bring their clients solutions that’ll drive engagement, loyalty, and customer lifetime value. Through this, they’ve helped major brands like eBay and Spotify on creating repeatable & multilingual content they can use in their campaigns. But that’s not all that they’re eager for.
“ We’re nerds, so we’re excited about loads of things. Web3, AI, ML, composable commerce, creative automation, next-level motion design. You name it, we’re probably excited about it.”
And above all, DEPT® is most excited to create boundary-pushing digital marketing solutions. They’re hoping to disrupt traditional models by dynamically honing in on The Good Company initiative and by acquiring digital native agencies that can challenge the status quo. In 2022 alone, they’ve acquired six new digital marketing agencies and are projected to have over 5,000 employees by 2024.
“That’s why we are currently focused on building a strong tech & marketing services company with rapid growth in our capabilities, global footprint and ability to create original digital work. All while retaining our culture,” they said.