Troiano departs O&M Interactive

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Michael Troiano, the 30-year old CEO of Ogilvy & Mather Interactive, New York, will leave the oldest agency interactive unit by monthend to join year-old one-man startup Cuniff Interactive Agency, also New York. Ogilvy & Mather Interactive Chief Operating Officer B.J. Choi will handle his duties until a successor is named, which could be as soon as next week.

The move comes at a telling time for both Ogilvy & Mather and the industry. Ogilvy's interactive unit, formed in 1983 under Martin Nisenholtz, now president of the New York Times Electronic Media Co., is still undergoing a restructuring that will take it from under the Ogilvy & Mather Direct umbrella and integrates it into the agency's direct and general account management.

In July, the agency began moving key staff into the general agency to cross-pollenate an awareness of how interactive fit into O&M's "brand stewardship" philosophy. During the period from 1992 to 1995, O&M Interactive grew revenues from $500,000 to $4 million.

"My proudest single achievement was our role in creating the integrated campaigns for IBM software," Mr. Troiano said of the campaign that was used in 34 different languages and across multiple media. "For the first time, we could execute a cross-media, cross border communications strategy.".

Under Mr. Troiano, O&M grew its IBM Corp. business dramatically, and maintained a large area for American Express Co. built on AOL. But as of July, American Express was increasing its roster of interactive agencies and Web design shops, and not all the new assignments were going to O&M..

One employee of the unit under Mr. Troiano said of him that "he was able to pull in a lot of business, including IBM software, but beyond that our challenge was to get another client as big as IBM, someone like a Pepsi." The agency was unable to do that.

In his new job, Mr. Troiano will actively pitch new business. As for whether or not Cunniff Interactive will add his name to its title is also unclear. "A lot of things are still up for discussion," he said..

He will work alongside Tom Cunniff, 35, president of the agency and an industry friend. "My background is as a creative guy," Mr. Cunniff said. "We want to grow more application-driven clients. I wanted to bring someone like Mike in to grow the business..

Mr. Cunniff was a writer and associate creative director at Lord, Dentsu & Partners for five years before forming Cunniff Interactive..

Copyright October 1996 Crain Communications Inc.

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