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Naming an interactive agency of record was all the rage a few years ago, but marketers now say they'd rather divide their interactive assignments and conquer.

"If a company looks at the Internet as just another ad medium, then maybe agency of record is the way to go," said P.J. Sinopoli, director of communications at Quaker Oats Co.'s Gatorade. "But neither technology nor agency support lends itself to having an interactive agency of record."


About 18 months ago, the marketer asked its traditional agency, Foote, Cone & Belding, Chicago, to develop a Web site for Gatorade. While FCB still is heavily involved in the creative evolution of the site (, Gatorade routinely taps a variety of shops for special projects.

The marketer has worked with Seattle-based Starwave Corp. to produce promotions with partner ESPN. In January Gatorade hired Eagle River Interactive, Dallas, to create a Web game to supplement a traditional campaign developed by FCB (AA, Feb. 10). "It's not an agency free-for-all, but utilizing people with the right skills to get the job done," said Ms. Sinopoli. "That's the nature of marketing into the next millennium."


Even the companies that launched the interactive AOR craze have backed off.

Procter & Gamble Co., which two years ago named Grey Interactive, New York, its lead resource, last year began farming out creative work to other agencies.

AT&T, another marketer that early on named an interactive agency of record, Modem Media, Westport, Conn., now assigns work to other AT&T shops such as Wunderman Cato Johnson, New York, and Strategic Interactive Group, Boston.

Some marketers are sticking with the interactive AOR concept. Reebok International tapped On Ramp, New York, about three years ago, before its traditional agency Leo Burnett USA had built a substantial interactive unit.

Even though Chicago-based Burnett now has a full-fledged interactive subsidiary, Giant Step, and has contributed to the creative development of Reebok's online efforts, the marketer still refers to On Ramp as its interactive agency of record.

"Not only do we call On Ramp our interactive AOR, we also call them about every 15 minutes," joked Brenda Goodell, VP-marketing communications at Reebok.

Although parceling out interactive work to a handful of new media shops is common protocol today, some marketers may be experimenting with various shops in an effort to buy time while their agencies of record get up to speed in the interactive arena.

trolls for best ideas

While Microsoft Corp. touts both a traditional agency of record (Wieden & Kennedy, Portland, Ore.) and an interactive agency of record (Anderson & Lembke, San Francisco), the company's Internet Explorer division spent the better part of 1996 canvassing the nation's best Web developers for ideas.

The marketer tapped Blue Marble and SiteSpecific, both New York, and CKS Partners, Cupertino, Calif., to handle various online projects throughout the year. "A lot of online projects demand expertise in many areas, but it's the bigger agencies like Anderson and Wieden who really know our brand," said Jay Goldstein, product manager for Internet Explorer.

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