BBDO WEST LINKS WITH 'NET DEVELOPER;PRODDED BY APPLE, AGENCY INTERACTIVE HOLDOUT GIVES IT A TRY

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BBDO Worldwide has found a way to get its feet wet on the Internet without diving in.

BBDO West formed a strategic alliance with Maximum Information, a San Francisco developer and publisher of World Wide Web tools.

MaxInfo will help BBDO launch a corporate home page early next year and also will work to develop interactive marketing tools for BBDO clients. Neither company is making an investment in the other.

One of MaxInfo's tools is WebC, a tool that allows for tracking what information visitors view, when, how often, and where they go on a particular site.

"New media is an important tool," said David Lubars, president and executive creative director, BBDO West, which has offices in San Francisco and Los Angeles. "Our problem has been, how do you do stuff in this new medium? These guys [from MaxInfo] have the tools to help us really rock."

Although BBDO has helped several clients set up Web sites and other interactive tests, it has taken a cautious approach to new media in terms of organizational changes and investments. It is one of the few large agency networks not setting up or acquiring an interactive unit.

BBDO Worldwide Chairman-CEO Allen Rosenshine this summer repeated his reluctance to make the commitment other agencies have made to interactive.

"We will not overinvest in things we don't know our clients will want or need," he told Advertising Age.

BBDO's West Coast operations, however, have been under pressure to devote more time and talent to the Internet from clients such as Apple Computer.

"We have been talking with them about [Internet expansion] a lot and pushing them to gain greater and greater expertise in that area," said Allen Olivo, director-worldwide advertising for Apple. "We are in the forefront of interactivity at Apple as a company but not in [interactive] advertising," he said. "We've said, `you've got to help us here.'*"

A core team from BBDO West will head up the agency's interactive efforts for clients throughout the system.

"WebC provides a higher degree of interactivity between user and Web site than relying on HTML programming," said Rick Markovitz, who was named senior VP-interactive in August (he's also management supervisor on the agency's Fox account).

"This will give us an added value in approaching a client about handling their Web effort."

Mark Gleason contributed to this story.

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