With the acquisition last week of Digital Planet and Spin Cycle Entertainment, newly named iXL-Los Angeles becomes the largest interactive agency on the Digital Coast.
The agency, which was previously BoxTop/iXL, will consolidate its two new businesses into a single office, with a staff of 160.
The Los Angeles expansion is part of an ongoing effort by iXL, Atlanta, to become a dominant worldwide force in providing Internet solutions. In the past year alone, iXL has acquired more than 15 new media companies. Last year, it reported revenue of $25 million.
"Los Angeles will be the ultimate battleground for success in the interactive business," said Trip Davis, president of iXL-Los Angeles and co-founder of Green Room, a San Francisco Web developer acquired by iXL in February.
"Combining BoxTop, Spin Cycle and Digital Planet is the first major move in that strategy," said Mr. Davis.
Digital Planet is a Los Angeles-based interactive agency whose clients include Universal Pictures, Warner Bros. Home Video, Mattel and others.
MOVIE, TV AND CAR CLIENTS
Spin Cycle is a Hollywood, Calif., production company that counts Universal Studios, Walt Disney Co., Warner Bros. and others as clients.
"Because of the movie studios, TV studios and car design industry, the best creative talent is attracted here," said Kevin Wall, former CEO of BoxTop/iXL, who has been named vice chairman of iXL Holdings.
"Our company is trying to take advantage of that and take it into the traditional advertising space," said Mr. Wall, whose Wilshire Boulevard office is filled with photos of Elton John, Eric Clapton, Michael Jackson and other artists for whom he produced shows as chairman of music production company Radio Vision before founding BoxTop in 1995.
To attract more traditional clients, including those in automotive, banking, healthcare and other West Coast industry segments, iXL-Los Angeles is restructuring its client services organization to add more business strategy and technology consulting expertise.
"We've taken this integration opportunity to redefine how we service our clients' needs," said Chuck Copin, senior VP-client services, iXL-Los Angeles, who was previously general manager of Asatsu/ BBDO, Tokyo.
The interactive agency has added two new components to its sales and marketing operations. They are: account directors, who will provide strategic consulting; and technologists, who will help clients understand how to use technology to create business opportunities.
MOVING BEYOND PROJECTS
These new functions, together with front-end business development and back-end production, are designed to help iXL evolve from a project-based approach to a long-term relationship approach, Mr. Copin said.
"It doesn't surprise me at all they want to head upstream," said Bill Doyle, director of money and technology strategies at Forrester Research.
"All of the interactive architects are really strapped for cash," he said.
"They need to find a way to tap into a better budget before they go bust."
However, flush with new cash from a recent $31 million round of financing, and with a roster of clients including Frito-Lay, AT&T Corp., Intel Corp. and others, iXL appears well positioned to meet its goal of becoming one of the top-tier interactive agencies in the business.
Copyright May 1998, Crain Communications Inc.