Y&R 2.1 gains a fast $60 mil in billings

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It took Young & Rubicam's Y&R 2.1 less than 60 days to pick up more than $60 million in billings. The agency born in December recently signed up four new accounts -- Harrods, Mall.com, Global Digital Media.com and Capital Thinking.

The first two sites focus on electronic commerce -- the online site for Harrods, the famous department store in London, and

Mall.com, a one-stop shopping integrator based in Austin, Texas.

Global Digital Media.com has created what it dubs a new medium; its outdoor stations will offer public wireless Internet access supported by advertising. And Capital Thinking will open for business March 1 as an Internet mortgage marketplace.

With this latest round of clients, Y&R 2.1 finds itself working not only as a strategic partner, but as a developmental strategic partner.

"At Y&R, obviously strategy is important -- it's our middle name. But Y&R 2.1 plays a very big developmental role," said David Sable, whose title is "pilot" of Y&R 2.1. "Sometimes people come to us with the venture capitalists. In fact, we have one client that the bank came along with."


The launch of Y&R 2.1 has gone pretty much as expected, with just a few surprises. Mr. Sable said agency executives spend more time than expected digging into potential clients' backgrounds.

"There's so much business to be had, it's difficult to determine sometimes what's real. We turn down as much as we take on," he said. "You have to talk to a lot of people because you don't really know about these new companies. Do you really want to be the agency for something you don't believe in?"

Part of his strategy to filter clients is taking the business plan to analysts and asking for their views. And he's come up with a few sure-fire filters of his own.

If a prospective client comes in and begins to tell Y&R 2.1 what a great advantage they have because they're on the Web, Mr. Sable said he immediately suspects that the company is about three years behind the times. "Today there is no advantage to just being on the Net," he said. "The advantage is in the service you can provide and how you differentiate the service."


Y&R 2.1 is an agency within an agency, designed to be a smaller, quicker version of Young & Rubicam. The smaller shop aims to integrate online and offline marketing for clients.

The idea to form Y&R 2.1 came from President-Chief Operating Officer Tom Bell and Y&R Advertising Worldwide Chairman-CEO Graham Phillips who, since being installed as Y&R top executives last year, championed the idea of an inside agency to handle the converging media scene.

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