Cordiant Communications Group is attempting to raise the profile of its Internet presence and unify disparate online media capabilities, but the holding company for Bates Worldwide and 141 Integrated Communications has formidable obstacles to overcome.
Leading Cordiant's charge will be Joe Eazor, former chief strategist for Electronic Data Systems, who starts Sept. 1 as the first CEO-interactive business.
"CCG has a number of interactive capabilities around the world which reside within Bates Worldwide within the CCG network," said 38-year-old Mr. Eazor, who will be based in New York. "One of my highest priorities is to grow it into a network with common processes, methods and tools. We want to build an interactive business that is connected to and leverages the capabilities of CCG but, at the same time, has its own core set of capabilities and skills."
Jim Nail, senior analyst at Forrester Research, said Cordiant needs "to do something like this. Right now, their interactive capabilities don't even show up--certainly not on my radar screen--and I never hear anything about them from any marketers I talk to."
160 INTERACTIVE EMPLOYEES
It is unclear how Cordiant will unify its global interactive capabilities, which include 141 Integrated Communications (incorporating 141 Interactive, 141 Direct and 141 Promotion in the U.S.) and Bates, which has 10 offices worldwide handling clients' interactive work, including BAT|Industries' Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp., Hyundai Motor America and Warner-Lambert Co.
"We actually haven't decided at this stage," said Ian Smith, president of international for Cordiant and Bates Worldwide. Cordiant is considering pulling its interactive capabilities together under one, new branded division, he said. A name has not been chosen.
"We've got to work collaboratively with Bates and CCG management to figure out what capabilities would belong in this new venture," Mr. Eazor said. "I can't tell how much would be from 141 or Bates or built on our own. [One option is] pulling these capabilities and forming a unit within CCG much like Bates."
Cordiant won't reveal revenue of its interactive business, which employs 45 people in the U.S. and 115 people abroad.
Mr. Eazor's extensive consulting background and corporate strategy experience at EDS are what attracted Cordiant, Mr. Smith said.
"[We want to create an interactive resource] that's focused on strategic consulting, not just on form or process," Mr. Smith said, adding that he considers consulting the more profitable part of interactive advertising.
Mr. Smith said he expects Mr. Eazor to hire additional people, preferably with consulting backgrounds, to staff his new interactive unit; acquisitions also are likely.
`GOOD RAW MATERIAL'
At EDS, Mr. Eazor helped design a new direction for the company, which included helping to develop and launch a $2 billion electronic business division.
Prior to EDS, Mr. Eazor spent 10 years as a strategy and marketing consultant at EDS subsidiary A.T. Kearney. He left Kearney briefly to help Ernst & Young form a strategy consulting practice.
Mr. Eazor said he's got good raw material with which to work.
"This is not a start-up. This is taking great capabilities and bringing them together to create greater momentum," he said.
Copyright August 1999, Crain Communications Inc.