Tatham opens Interaction unit targeting Net set

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Euro RSCG Tatham, Chicago, is launching a digital division, hoping to bring the Internet to offline companies and branding to Net-savvy, brand-inexperienced clients.

Since launching in March, Tatham's Interaction has added five clients and expects to sign two more soon. The initial duo are Chicago-based companies, apartment finder ApartmentZone.com and dot-com incubator Strategic iPartners, with combined billings of $20 million. Tatham executives declined to offer details on two other dot-coms and one software company about to sign on.

Mike Oxman, Interaction director, said the unit is timely because interactive companies are now realizing they need more than just snappy ads.

"With a lot of dot-coms, they advertise on the Super Bowl, spend a wad of cash, and poof-they're gone," Mr. Oxman said. "With brand-ing, they can establish" themselves.

Tatham's Interaction is part of 2-year-old Euro RSCG Interaction, comprising 39 other interactive units of the Havas Advertising network.


Gary Epstein, Tatham president-CEO, said the agency has already done interactive work for clients without having a dedicated unit. He added that there is fertile ground in helping dot-com companies brand themselves. Many "will prop up their business with some kind of kooky one-off advertising," he said, "but if you want that brand to live long-term, you will need to have an identity."

About eight people work for Tatham's Interaction, but Mr. Oxman said that could hit 20 by yearend.

Mr. Epstein said Tatham wants to buy companies to pair with Interaction, adding he's considering a company that does back-end Web site development.

As for other new business, Mr. Oxman said Interaction is courting Tatham advertising clients such as Bayer Corp., Dean Foods and Hillshire Farms.

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