The new group, which may ultimately steer the agency onto the information superhighway, is already believed to be helping develop a combination music video and home shopping channel to be launched this year by Tele-Communications Inc. and Bertelsmann Music Group.
The network is expected to target men 15 to 25 years old, with music video programming that will also allow viewers to order products like T-shirts and concert tickets from home.
Y&R has imported Paul Meijer, an award-winning creative director from PMSvW/Young & Rubicam, Amsterdam, to New York, to head the new group. Before joining Y&R in 1991, Mr. Meijer, 41, worked as a creative managing director for the European satellite company Super Channel, where he developed program formats and content.
Steve Heyer, chief operating officer of Y&R Advertising, said Mr. Meijer will report to Ted Bell, Y&R's vice chairman-worldwide creative director, and will focus on new client development for the group, using the agency's worldwide creative pool.
"Think of it as a creative consulting firm," Mr. Heyer said. "It's going to be advertising driven, but other Y&R units will want to draw upon it, depending on the nature of the work. It's a `virtual team' that will work project to project, client to client."
Mr. Heyer refused to discuss specific clients the group will handle, but industry executives say the agency is working with TCI and Bertelsmann, a German music and media giant.
It's unclear how that relationship will jibe with Columbia House, a music club handled by Y&R subsidiary Wunderman Cato Johnson, New York, and Time Inc., a client for whom Y&R handles "minor media projects.
Time Warner is believed to be working with Sony Corp. on a music channel similar to TCI's venture with Bertelsmann.
The nascent Y&R group is the first development to be overseen by the new team of Y&R leaders-namely Mr. Heyer and Ed Vick, who joins Y&R in New York as president in February-since Y&R Inc. Chairman Alex Kroll relinquished his ceo post to Peter Georgescu last month.
Y&R is not, however, the first major agency to form an ad hoc entry onto the information superhighway. Interpublic Group of Cos. recently affiliated with Brockway Direct Response Television, Huntington, N.Y., to develop infomercials.
Also, Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising Worldwide, New York, has an infomercial division, and Bozell Worldwide has partnered with Transactional Media, Los Angeles.M
Joe Mandese contributed to this story.