The lab, coined MEMA (Mobile and Emerging Media/Applications), will be headed by Richard Ting, VP-exec creative director, who will oversee a group of strategists, designers, technology experts and quality assurance specialists. Mr. Ting will continue creative leadership on the Nike account, which he's been on since joining the agency five years ago.
R/GA's structure to change
The agency's structure will change internally, he said, so a dedicated emerging media team all sits in one place.
"We're creating a core team that will help evolve the thinking in these spaces and spread the knowledge across the entire company," he said.
Additionally, Webster Lewin has been hired as director-mobile marketing from WPP's VML. He co-chairs the Mobile Marketing Association's mobile marketing strategies and best practices committee.
A number of advertising agencies earlier this year began to prepare for mobile's advertising potential. Publicis & Hal Riney, for example, has hired mobile-marketing veteran Dave Whetstone to head one such practice. New York hot shop Anomaly has spun off its mobile-marketing group into a division called Assembly.
Wireless shops think traditional
Agencies already specializing in wireless, meanwhile, are expanding their operations into traditional advertising and marketing practices. Omnicom-owned mobile marketing shop Ipsh, for example, has expanded its capabilities beyond text-messaging programs and into a full-service mobile-marketing provider with the opening earlier this year of FullServ-ipsh, overseeing media strategy, planning, buying and creative.
"More and more agencies are looking at this and trying to help their customers figure it out," Mr. Whetstone said. He added that marketers will see the most success "where mobile is integrated into an existing campaign, so it makes sense for agencies to do other elements of marketing."
Mr. Ting said mobile social media is one of the most exciting areas for 2007.
"We've seen lots of social media executions online," he said. "Consumers are expecting social media online and they'll expect to extend it to mobile space. Helio has MySpace on the phone, there's the Dodgeball mobile social network and Facebook as a mobile site as well. It'll be about taking these social worlds and bringing them into consumer's handsets."
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Alice Z. Cuneo contributed to this report.