They call themselves the "stealth agency."
Bronner Slosberg Humphrey's Strategic Interactive Group has managed to stay off of most new-media radar screens while doing interactive work for 14 blue-chip clients including AT&T Corp., IBM Corp., American Express Corp., Kraft Foods and Lever Bros.
Now, the agency is emerging as a lead competitor to Modem Media, AT&T's interactive agency of record. Although SIG says it doesn't aspire to replace Modem, its billings with AT&T are well into the millions and growing.
Opened in April 1995, Boston-based SIG employs 135 and plans to add 40 more. It will record about $15 million in revenue this year.
"We feel quite strongly that there's no one else out there like us," said Kathy Biro, SIG's president. "We offer interactive with a brain, and we partner strategically with clients and keep focused on them, not on our competition."
SIG is said to handle at least 10% of AT&T interactive work, including a new site for True Rewards.
Modem, Westport, Conn., handles all interactive media buying for AT&T and design work for its consumer and business sites. AT&T accounted for 84% of first half 1996 revenue for Modem; after its merger with TN Technologies that figure will drop to 43%.
SPREADING WORK AROUND
"We have developed a partnership with AT&T and are confident that our work is strong," said David Lynch, group account director at Modem.
Other agencies that have done interactive work for AT&T include R. Greenberg & Associates, Poppe Tyson and Wunderman Cato Johnson, all New York.
"We're tending to work with more than one agency because there's only so much one agency can do," said Mary Lou Floyd, general manager of AT&T's corporate Web site.
With another agency gaining ground, is Modem nervous?
"There have always been other agencies doing business at AT&T. We couldn't do it all; we'd be overwhelmed," said John Nardone, Modem's director of media and research services.
Ms. Biro stressed that SIG's business model is different from Modem's.
"SIG is strictly fee for service; we don't get paid as an AOR or for media buying," she said. "We aren't aiming to be the AOR. . . . We're the stealth agency, with no big PR engine. Our growth comes through word of mouth and from delivering actual results for clients."
Copyright November 1996, Crain Communications Inc.