OgilvyInteractive, the interactive unit of Ogilvy direct arm OgilvyOne Worldwide, prides itself on its creative prowess, garnering such honors as a Cannes CyberLions, @d:tech awards and the Andys award.
Creativity mixes with technology to the point that the agency this year established OgilvyInteractive Applications Laboratory, which develops Web applications for clients.
The goal, says President-CEO Mike Windsor, is Ogilvy's strategy of "360-degree branding," a trademarked scheme "designed to build market share by expanding brands at all possible points of customer contact."
"First and foremost, we're an agency, one that has been operating in the direct response-relationship area for a long time," Mr. Windsor says. "The Web certainly is leading-edge technology, but we balance it between advertising and marketing as it makes sense in new applications."
`A NATURAL EVOLUTION'
"Interactivity is about extending the relationship consumers have with brands to the digital universe," says Jeannette McClennan, OgilvyInteractive president/North America. "It's a natural evolution."
OgilvyInteractive is a worldwide network with some 37 offices serving clients in more than 45 countries.
Using the so-called long-hallways concept coined by Ogilvy CEO Shelly Lazarus, which encourages offices to work with each other on projects, OgilvyInteractive taps other units in the agency for assistance.
"We've been doing lots of long-hallway work with Toronto and Cole & Weber, our Seattle office, leveraging resources in their offices," says Jan Leth, executive creative director-North America.
OgilvyInteractive just launched a site for Unilever's Chesebrough-Pond's USA Co., pondsquad.com, in which the skincare marketer, in partnership with MTV, is targeting teens with promotions and online activities. More than 100,000 responses from site visitors have been logged asking for samples; 90% of visitors have signed up for ongoing e-mail communications with the Pond's Squad.
PACKAGE-GOODS PROJECTS `TOUGH'
"We're creating a dialogue between the company and its prime users, young women who care passionately about physical appearances," says Mr. Leth. "Interactivity for a package-goods marketer is tough, but we're turning this into a community experience."
Why care about great creative?
"Sure, the technology component has got to be there or things don't work, but at the same time, you can't lose sight of the brand's personality, why you're doing interactivity in the first place," Mr. Leth says. "Even online, you can't lose the brand personality."
Although OgilvyInteractive acknowledges that it often competes for accounts against interactive companies such as iXL and MarchFirst, "we don't really see those companies as our competitive set. They're mostly roll-ups, technology companies with a dash of advertising," says Mr. Windsor. "We're all about interactive advertising."
What digital marketing comes down to is how agencies can help marketers reach customers as often as possible, says Ms. McClennan.
"We believe the leading advertising and marketing companies of the future are going to have to be masters of positive touchpoints with customers," she says. "We care about the technology aspect to the point that your applications have to work on the technology, but most of all, it has to have an impact with customers."
The agency in the past year reorganized its North American management team to better handle the needs of interactive clients. Numerous executives have been brought in with a range of direct-response and technology expertise.
"It's new thinking, to help us do innovative things," says Mr. Windsor.
What makes OgilvyInteractive stand out, Mr. Windsor continues, is that it has expanded the definition of creativity to include engineering and architecture; there's a focus on brands; and the long-hallways structure allows staff and assignments to cross-pollinate.
Says Mr. Windsor: "The work we do influences other work."