If you want to talk interactive at J. Walter Thompson Co., talk to Roland Sharette.
Four years ago, Mr. Sharette helped start J. Walter Thompson/OnLine, a division formed long before it became fashionable for agencies to be interactive.
"There was a time when I couldn't get an acknowledgement from another [ JWT] office"-but that's all changed now, said Mr. Sharette, who served as manager of the Detroit unit until he was named director of interactive resources for all of JWT last month. He is one of the only JWT staffers to devote 100% of his time to interactive media.
Thanks to Mr. Sharette's group, JWT clients are heavily represented on online services: Ford Motor Co. and Citibank are on both Prodigy and CompuServe; Eastman Kodak Co. and Florists Transworld Delivery Service appear on Prodigy, also a JWT client.
JWT/OnLine is also handling the Internet advertising being done by Ford's Lincoln/Mercury division, a Young & Rubicam client.
Jean Pool, New York-based senior VP-director of USA services, oversees the agency's work in interactive TV.
She heads up two interactive committees, the nine-person worldwide group and the seven-person North America group. Both are heavy on media department executives.
"I don't see anything getting up this year," Ms. Pool said, adding that the agency has been active with Ford on Groupe Videotron's Videoway system in Quebec and plans to be involved with Bell Atlantic Corp.'s Stargazer test in Virginia (Bell Atlantic is a JWT client), the Viacom/AT&T Castro Valley, Calif., test, U S West's Omaha test and Prime Ticket's interactive system in Los Angeles.
JWT also signed an exclusive contract to test low-level interactive ads with 30,000 homes on an East Coast cable TV system.
In the meantime, the agency is hoping its experience with online services will help it with interactive TV.
"The actual interactivity ... where you have niche programs and layers of data is going to be very much like Prodigy or CompuServe," Ms. Pool said.