INTERACTIVE: NEW-MEDIA UNITS DISCOVER JOY OF MOVING UP AND OUT

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ike restless teen-agers, traditional agency interactive units are escaping the shadow of their parents by moving out.

In January, Giant Step left Leo Burnett Co.'s Chicago offices for a spacious, less expensive loft west of downtown. Grey Interactive moved out of Grey Advertising's headquarters late last year and into another Grey-owned building. And the interactive department of Adler Boschetto Peebles & Partners just signed a lease for its own office space.

What put these agencies on the move? A variety of reasons, ranging from the logistical (multiple data ports at every desk) to the money-oriented (new business outside of the parent agency's roster) to the mundane (more space).

TEAM APPROACH

"We needed a physical location that was designed around the way we work. We have a team-oriented approach," said Rishad Tobaccowala, president of Giant Step.

Giant Step's 10,000-square-foot loft allows the interactive staff to gather and discuss projects in a more conducive environment than the previous office occupying part of a floor of the Burnett building, said Eric Heneghan, Giant Step VP.

At Grey Interactive, staff size was a contributing factor to the decision to move into a building near the Flatiron District of Manhattan.

"We were on lots of different floors at Grey. We reached a point where we had people on seven different floors," said Norman Lehoullier, managing director of Grey Interactive.

Key to the redesign was getting various disciplines in the same room together-or at least close.

"This is all brand new, and the only way to make it work is by sharing across a multi-disciplinary organization," Mr. Lehoullier said. "People work together so they can learn."

SOFTENS CONFLICTS

Attracting clients that may have been a conflict with clients of the parent agency is another motivation for moving out.

"We have several non-Leo Burnett clients that are happy with their ad agencies," said Mr. Tobaccowala. "We're not an ad agency; we're an interactive marketing specialist here."

Larry Adler, president-CEO of Adler Boschetto, New York, said the plan to add clients by separating ABP Interactive is "akin to direct marketing or sales promotion."

The unit moves to new offices in the same midtown Manhattan area later this month.

Another situation also reflects the need for autonomy. Really Perceptive, New York, is a joint venture between the Interpublic Group of Cos. and Ifusion, a client of ad agency Gotham, New York.

"We didn't want to do it out of Gotham because [Gotham is] perceived as a traditional agency," said Martin J. Smith, vice chairman of Gotham and president of Really Perceptive, which uses push technology to send targeted advertising. "Our focus is new media."

Moving out makes economical sense as well. As interactive units become separate profit centers for their parent agency, they need to keep costs down and be nimble enough to compete. Often a move comes down to the bottom line.

"We have much cheaper rent here," said Mr. Heneghan of Giant Step. "For us, the dollars make a lot of sense."M

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