An agency clicks

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It's one thing to see huge global agencies such as OgilvyInteractive leading the charge at interactive award shows-it's another to find an 18-month old shop from Sao Paulo, Brazil, in the top five. But such is the case with AgenciaClick, which celebrated its first year with an online fable on its site about a grasshopper and a frog. The plucky grasshopper appears to be the hero, and the message is that in nature it's important to face challenges. Suddenly the frog swallows him. The real message: It's important to be the frog.

"We help companies on the Internet be the frog," says P.J. Pereira, VP-creative director and one of four partners at AgenciaClick.

Mr. Pereira, a boyish 27, is behind award-winners like a Braille banner for the Sao Paulo Eye Bank that spells out "Donate Corneas" when the user irresistibly connects the dots with a tiny finger, and a banner for O Boticario sunscreen that winces and says "ouch" when prodded with the cursor.

Mr. Pereira keeps in his Sao Paulo office the cuddly but sometimes-headless teddy bear he executed in a much-publicized online stunt when the agency launched in January 2000. Teddy took the fall to make Mr. Pereira's point that it's time to get serious about the Internet.

With much more of its business from blue-chip marketers-such as General Motors Corp.-than dot-coms, and with diversified skills, the young agency is weathering the downturn, although growth has slowed. After quickly staffing up in its first year from 30 employees to 200, the agency cut back in March to 150. Fortunately, investment bank Banco Opportunity is majority shareholder.

The i-shop's portfolio also includes European mass-market clothing retailer C&A's first online store (www.cea.com.br), which conveys an international fashion feel and features Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bundchen.

Despite approaches from potential buyers, Mr. Pereira says the shop plans to remain independent.

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