Ad agency veteran returns to roots, joins Agency.com

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In a move from analyst at Forrester Research to VP-client services at Agency.com, Dana Tower is returning to his roots. Last week, Mr. Tower began his job overseeing new business and strategic development at Agency.com, a rapidly growing New York interactive advertising agency.

Before his one-year stint at Forrester, Mr. Tower, 47, spent 22 years at ad agencies that include Cunningham & Walsh, bought by N.W. Ayer & Partners, where he worked on the Procter & Gamble Co. account; Lowe Marschalk, which merged to become Lowe & Partners/SMS, on the Coca-Cola Co. and Sony Corp. of America accounts; and Ted Bates Worldwide, now Bates Worldwide, on the M&M/Mars confectionary business.

RELATIONSHIPS BEGET ACQUISITIONS

"These guys [at Agency.com] have always been an agency I admired," said Mr. Tower, who covered interactive agencies at Forrester. "I come out of Forrester having talked to their clients. Those clients really loved the relationship and felt they were being coddled, educated and brought forward in long-term relationships. That's important [because] the whole key to building a service business is the relationship."

Heading up new-business and client strategy-building takes on importance because of Agency.com's aggressive growth in acquiring other interactive shops.

Last week, the agency merged with Boston-based Interactive Solutions, which now will be based in New York and operate under the Agency.com moniker. It also bought the rest of New York-based Spiral Media it doesn't already own. Agency.com also acquired London-based Online Magic, which has a New York office, last month.

Mr. Tower said he likes the strategy of buying companies with which Agency.com already has relationships. He said it's an important advantage, especially as other agencies also make acquisitions.

"Agency.com has had the advantage of an early start and also in forming tight relationships with the companies they buy before [acquiring them]. Integration will be a non-issue for us. But with others, I think managing the growth and integration [of purchased companies] will pull them down," Mr. Tower said.

`WHAT WE NEED FOR OUR CLIENTS'

Including Spiral Media, whose President-CEO Art Williams also became an Agency.com exec VP, Agency.com now employs 375 people with an annual revenue of $60 million.

Chan Suh, chairman-CEO of Agency.com, said the recent acquisitions put the agency in a comfortable leading role. "Without beating our chests about it, I think it puts us there. I think it allows us to have the scalability and large resources, which is what we need for our clients," he said.

Copyright June 1998, Crain Communications Inc.

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