TBWA Chiat/Day cuts West Coast interactive group

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TBWA Chiat/Day has shut down its West Coast interactive operation, opting to rely on the expertise of parent Omnicom Group's Communicade roster of developers.

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The Venice, Calif., office let go three full-time employees, including interactive veteran Dick Hackenberg, who was interactive account director on Nissan Motor Corp. USA.


"Like all other agencies, we're grappling with the best way to handle the interactive needs of our clients," said Laurie Coots, chief operating officer. "We don't want to be in the hosting business and watch these things hum 24 hours a day. We want to be stewards of the brand."

TBWA Chiat/Day will parcel out online work to some of the half-dozen interactive developers that Omnicom has acquired stakes in: Agency.com and Razorfish, both New York; Organic Online and Red Sky Interactive, both San Francisco; Think New Ideas, Los Angeles; and Interactive Solutions, Cambridge, Mass.


"Omnicom has bought several very good companies which do the actual production," said Bob Kuperman, president-CEO of TBWA Chiat/Day North America. "We will continue to be involved in the strategic and creative aspects of interactive," he said.

The agency, he said, doesn't want to handle the details of Web site creation any more than it would the building of props for a TV spot.

Ms. Coots said she expects other agencies will soon begin to make serious choices about continuing in-house interactive operations, comparing the shakeout to that experienced by agencies in the 1980s when they began to dabble with bringing design centers or direct mail operations aboard. Many agencies, she said, "decided to let other experts do database management," and other specialized tasks.

Outsourcing interactive work isn't unusual among agencies. Some shops, such as Leo Burnett USA, have set up their interactive production groups as separate units. But others, like Poppe Tyson, have built large developer staffs.


Clients don't offer much guidance. An Advertising Age survey found that while most wanted their agency to set up a separate interactive unit, nearly as many wanted the agency to form alliances with developers (AA, March 10).

Dave Butler and John Avery, creative directors on Nissan, will continue to oversee the Nissan site as well as direct mail and design. Kim Maloney, digital producer, will work on the agency's Web site and intranet operations.

Fred Rubin remains director of interactive marketing for TBWA Chiat/Day in New York, which handles online work for clients including The Sporting News, Champion Products and Nynex.

Copyright April 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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