The move puts digital communications on a par with McCann's traditional ad, public relations and direct marketing practices, said Ira Carlin, McCann's worldwide media director and chairman-CEO of the new unit.
Setting up a separate unit allows McCann to nurture growth in interactive marketing, initially as a business-to-business medium but also as a mass consumer medium, Mr. Carlin said. He added that the structure will allow Thunder House units to share resources worldwide while ensuring interactive marketing doesn't get lost among McCann's more traditional media efforts.
"We don't want digital communications to be a poor relation or be subsumed," said Mr. Carlin.
Still, McCann remains dedicated to the concept of integrated marketing, and it has developed a number of tools integrating communications, media planning and other functions to help with those efforts, he said.
Thunder House groups McCann's interactive operations worldwide, including those of McCann Interactive and the original Thunder House, an agency acquired by McCann as part of its purchase last year of PR agency Weber Group. Weber also was rebranded as a new PR corridor last week, under the name Weber Public Relations Worldwide; that corridor includes Ludgate Group and Technology Solutions, a technology PR specialist acquired last week by McCann.
Joe McCambley, former managing director of the original Thunder House, was named president of the new unit, while Anderson CEO Hans Ullmark becomes worldwide strategic director.
$17 MILLION IN BILLINGS
Thunder House opens with $17 million in billings from marketers including Black & Decker Corp., L'Oreal, General Motors Corp., Tiffany & Co., Unilever and US Airways.
Also last week, insiders said Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising's newly created new-media unit, Darwin Digital, is in the process of opening offices in San Francisco and New York.
The new division is led by Coby O'Brien, previously senior VP of Saatchi & Saatchi Interactive. Saatchi declined to comment on any plans regarding Darwin.
Also, DDB Needham Worldwide's media service unit-Optimum Media-is in the process of hiring a new head for its Optimum New Technologies, New York. A successor for Wes Dubin, the former manager of the new-media division, is expected to be named in the next two weeks. Mr. Dubin left the company this past spring.