Targeting global marketers, Westport, Conn.-based AdVista collects and catalogs advertising information about its clients and their competitors. Client executives can instantly call up specific marketing data and even TV commercials through desktop personal computers equipped with CD-ROM drives.
"What this does is put a CD-ROM on your desktop. You put in the criteria and go through it," said AdVista President Duane E. Loftus, who is said to be working with several top D'Arcy clients, like Kraft General Foods, as well non-D'Arcy clients and their agencies.
"A brand manager in Stockholm can see what his counterparts around the world are doing-not once a year at a conference-but anytime," Mr. Loftus said.
In a recent demonstration of the system, called BrandView, Mr. Loftus, 44, showed how a New York-based marketing executive could call up vintage or current print, radio, TV or promotional campaigns via country, brand or category and, within seconds, show or run them on a laptop computer.
"Right now if you are a ceo or international marketing director and you want to sit down and look at what your company is doing worldwide, you need to call up a rental truck company to bring in videos, call another to bring in marketing strategies and then commit a significant portion of your life to running videotapes and matching them up to memos," Mr. Loftus said.
"D'Arcy, like every agency, is looking at the future of the business and they see inevitable changes," he said. "Interactive media is going to have a profound effect on how they do business in the future."
D'Arcy developed the system 21/2 years ago when Qantas Airways, which has since split with the agency, asked the agency's Sydney office to engineer a method to help the airline keep track of marketing information.
D'Arcy, interested in offering BrandView to other clients, last April tapped Mr. Loftus-a former agency executive and developer of a now-defunct electronic media buying system called Info-Edge-to go to Australia and evaluate their system.
AdVista was formed after his return to New York. Richard Hopple, D'Arcy's vice chairman-corporate strategic development, said he expects the unit to break even this year.
For clients, maintaining the system costs $10,000 to $120,000 a month, depending on the range of services and features requested and the frequency of data updates they require.
Mr. Loftus wouldn't name the marketers he's working with. Another executive, however, said AdVista counts Kraft General Foods among its clients. Additionally, discussions are said to be under way with Procter & Gamble Co., Anheuser-Busch and IBM Corp. in South America.
To assure confidentiality for clients and their agencies, Mr. Loftus said he programs in multiple layers of access so, for instance, one agency isn't privy to another's media costs, but the client can tap into everything.
"It's very important that we maintain confidentiality," he said. "Our reporting relationship to D'Arcy is purely financial. That's important because in dealing with agencies like Grey Advertising and Backer Spielvogel Bates, we're dealing with highly sensitive information."
AdVista is a "well-kept secret" that is completely autonomous of D'Arcy, Mr. Loftus said. The unit is based in Connecticut to underscore its independence. And Mr. Loftus never worked for D'Arcy.