Saatchi to launch interactive-focused marketing company

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Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising is creating a marketing services holding company with the working name Saatchi Vision Co., Advertising Age has learned.

The New York-based company, will have approximately 40 staffers and will include a major independent interactive unit tentatively called Darwin Digital. That unit will be led by Coby O'Brien, currently senior VP of Saatchi & Saatchi Interactive.

Last week, Mr. O'Brien had earmarked a total of 20 staffers, both from within and outside the agency, to work in the group.

Mr. O'Brien and Darwin Digital will report to Tony Dalton, vice chairman of Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising North America.


Darwin Digital will offer Web-related and other interactive services, such as CD-ROM development, to clients of Saatchi as well as non-Saatchi clients.

What will happen to the current Saatchi Interactive unit couldn't be determined, but it's likely to be folded into the new Darwin Digital. As of last year, Saatchi Interactive had fewer than 10 staffers.

Saatchi executives declined to comment.

In the past, Saatchi has relied heavily on sister company Siegel & Gale for interactive work. Independent developer Rare Medium, New York, also has assignments from Saatchi client General Mills.

Saatchi may have been spurred into forming its own digital media group because it is considering spinning off Siegel & Gale. That company is believed to be readying an initial public offering for this fall.


Executives close to Saatchi have also said the new holding company may provide direct marketing services, such as the design and production of collateral and mailers. It's unclear if those services will come from Darwin Digital.

Earlier this year, independent direct marketing shop Lieber Levett Koenig Farese & Babcock signed a non-financial affiliation with Saatchi & Saatchi, also led in part by Saatchi's Mr. Dalton, that extends beyond their joint management of Delta Air Lines as a client.

Copyright May 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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