Ron Pullem, 39, will lead the unit as senior VP-managing director.
"I see myself as heading up a transition team," said Mr. Pullem, who for the past three years has been VP-director of international media at McCann. "Many of the interactive applications are three or four years away, but there are some applications we can begin doing today."
Mr. Pullem said the unit initially will focus on interactive TV projects in progress at McCann's agencies in New York, Atlanta, Detroit, Montreal, San Francisco and Los Angeles.
He declined to disclose the nature of those projects, but said McCann currently is working with Time Warner's Full Service Network test in Orlando and will be a participant in Viacom and AT&T's interactive TV test in Castro Valley, Calif. McCann client General Motors Corp. will participate in Time Warner's test.
In addition, he said McCann continues to be involved in MIT's Media Lab, a relationship that began in 1989. McCann is a sponsor of the lab's News in the Future Consortium, and last month organized its first advertising panel to explore the role advertising will play in interactive news programming.
The panel includes representatives of Time Warner, Interactive Network and Prodigy Services Co.
Ira Carlin, exec VP-worldwide media director of McCann, said McCann Interactive will be a decentralized, "low-overhead," unit that will primarily work through the New York and Chicago hubs.
New York was chosen because of the concentration of media resources in that office, as well as its involvement with MIT, and Chicago because of McCann Healthcare's work on interactive TV commercials for client Marion Merrell Dow's sponsorship of Whittle Communications' Medical News Network.
"We intend, through our clients, to be involved in every major interactive test bed," Mr. Carlin said.M