Agency.com joins TBWA London in Omnicom integration

By by Larissa Bannister, campaignlive.co.uk, Friday, 02 December 2005 12:00AM

LONDON - Agency.com, the Omnicom-owned full-service digital agency, is to become part of the TBWA\London group of companies in a network-wide move towards integration.

Agency.com will retain its name and management structure, but from now on will pitch with TBWA and other agencies in the group, which include the direct marketing arm, Tequila\.

David Eastman, the Agency.com managing director, will take part in TBWA group board meetings. He currently reports to the Agency.com head office in New York, but is expected to develop a reporting structure similar to that of the other group companies. Tequila\, for example, reports to local TBWA management and to its own global network chief.

It is not clear whether Agency.com will continue to report financial results as part of the Agency.com network or TBWA\London.

The digital agency expects the closer relationship to lead to opportunities to work with existing TBWA clients as well as on new-business pitches, according to Eastman. The agency will continue to work on a network basis for clients such as British Airways, which is run by Agency.com out of New York and London.

Eastman says Agency.com will complement the digital offering that already exists within Tequila\. "We have never seen ourselves as a below-the-line or direct digital agency," he says. "At Tequila\ there are people who can do things that we can't do at Agency.com, such as technical and relationship marketing - and we've never pitched against them in the past. We will continue to operate as separate businesses."

This change for the London businesses is part of a global alignment of Omnicom marketing services agencies around its three ad networks, BBDO, DDB and TBWA.

John Wren, the Omnicom president and chief executive, outlined initial plans earlier this year to partner TBWA with Agency.com, BBDO with the digital network Organic, and DDB with Rapp Collins.

A similar move to integrate the London offices of DDB with WWAV Rapp Collins is expected early next year and last week, Cilla Snowball, the Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO chairman, added the chairmanship of Proximity to her duties after Chris Thomas, the Proximity chief executive, was named as the new chief executive for BBDO Asia.

Wren's aim is to increase co-ordination and collaboration between the Omnicom advertising agencies and their sister companies in digital, direct marketing and, in time, retail.

The changes are intended to bring benefits across the group by locking in existing client relationships, via cross-fertilisation of business from one agency to another and by enabling smaller Omnicom companies to pitch for international accounts.

According to Paul Bainsfair, the president of TBWA\ Europe, the change to a more integrated model is principally client-driven.

"TBWA is not just an ad agency, it is a group of companies with services from direct marketing to PR," he says. "Like most agency groups, we are finding that clients want to work with agencies that do not operate in silos but can answer whatever communications task they are set."

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This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk

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