The impetus? Intel Corp., which "requested" that Euro RSCG spiff up its technology when the chipmaker consolidated its $150 million global account at the agency in March 1996.
The goal: to produce better, more consistent advertising by getting more input globally from people at Euro RSCG and Intel.
BETTER QUALITY IS THE GOAL
"Quickness is not exactly the goal," said Ann Lewnes, Intel director of worldwide advertising. "What the goal is, is better quality and better efficiency. I don't want to say that the campaigns are produced more quickly. I think the campaigns are produced better."
The system lets Ms. Lewnes monitor the globe. From a world map, she can click on Australia, scope out what media Intel is using at that time and look at the ads.
The technology consists of Intel Pentium-powered PCs running Microsoft Corp.'s Windows 95 or Windows NT, and a custom version of Netscape Communications Corp.'s Navigator. The PCs connect to computer servers running IBM Corp.'s Lotus Domino software.
Anyone at the agency and Intel involved with advertising can-with the right password-see creative briefs, production schedules, media plans, files from old campaigns, research, digitized ver-sions of print ads and, eventually,
The marketer, agency and an outside consultant jointly developed the Internet-based software and hardware application, making Euro RSCG something of an ad agency laboratory.
OPPORTUNITY FOR PENTIUM
Intel sees an opportunity to push Pentium PCs into agencies, one of the few markets Apple Computer still controls. For the time being, however, Euro RSCG will be the only agency using the application; Intel currently has no plans to license it.
But Bob Schmetterer, chairman-CEO of Euro RSCG Worldwide, said the agency group expects within a year to use the application with three to five of its other multinational clients, which include Philips Electronics, Procter & Gamble Co. and MCI Communications Corp.
Mr. Schmetterer contended that collaboration over the Web will be as big a change for agency creatives as the advent of copywriter-art director teams was three and four decades ago.
"The cultural impact of this initiative is as big or bigger than that in a different age," he said, "because this combination of communication technology allows us a real-time kind of collaboration between advertising people in many different physical locations at the same time, and it allows our client to be an ongoing part of the collaboration."
The Intel and Euro RSCG system is still in its early stages. The network now connects about 25 agency and Intel staffers in the U.S., Europe and Asia. But a year from now, the network should grow to everyone central to Intel advertising, including about 250 agency staffers in 40 offices and 50 people at Intel.
Much of the prep work involved interviewing ad people "to come up with something they would all want to use," Ms. Lewnes said. More important than the cost of the technology is "the sea change it requires in culture."
Agency and client shared in the cost of development.
"Intel agreed basically to kind of seed this as a way of helping Euro [RSCG] get used to and embrace technology," said Bill Reiser, an Intel solutions project manager.
EURO RSCG'S INVESTMENT
Euro RSCG now will take over the expense of development. Mr. Schmetterer said the agency is making a "multimillion-dollar investment."
Euro RSCG is an intriguing case study because it was a technology laggard a year ago.
"They were basically fax and phone people and face-to-face meetings," Mr. Reiser said. "I'm sure they were incredibly skeptical in the beginning."
There are exceptions. Euro RSCG Dahlin Smith White, Salt Lake City, the Intel U.S. agency Euro RSCG acquired to snare the global account, grew up with technology. Mr. Schmetterer also is a known tech advocate.
But Euro RSCG is a work in progress. Mr. Reiser said staffers connect to the network with 28.8-speed modems, though Euro RSCG is looking at a high-speed private network.
"They have come a long way," Mr. Reiser said.