McCann Interactive, a New York-based group within McCann-Erickson Worldwide, is leading the new-media push among agencies within Interpublic Group of Cos.
Ron Pullem, senior VP-managing director of McCann Interactive, a unit formally christened last November, said the group, with three full-time staffers, is in various phases of exploration and project development for General Motors Corp., Johnson & Johnson, Coca-Cola Co., Nestle and 800-Flowers.
"We're probably the first agency that put its money where its mouth is," Mr. Pullem said, noting that since 1989 the agency has been a sponsor of MIT Media Lab, participation that Mr. Pullem estimates costs about $100,000 a year.
Additionally, McCann-in a consortium with clients AT&T, General Motors and Coca-Cola Co.-participated in an interactive TV test from ACTV in Springfield, Mass., in 1990.
"We're trying to break down in logical steps that will get us to full interactive TV in the year 2010," Mr. Pullem said. "Everyone has a scenario, but what's possible from a technological point of view is driving what's possible from a marketing point of view.
"We can order a pizza on demand, but do we really want to? We can do that now on the telephone. We and our clients welcome the postponement of interactive TV tests."
Mr. Pullem said online services are the best way to test the premise of interactivity. 800-Flowers is on CompuServe, while another McCann client will go up on Prodigy this fall. McCann is also working with Time Warner Interactive as part of a joint venture formed by Interpublic.