Atkinson poised for Saatchis role

LONDON - The Interfocus chief executive, Matt Atkinson, is poised to join Saatchi & Saatchi to head its integrated department just a year after he joined the direct marketing agency.

Atkinson will work alongside the integrated creative director, Trefor Thomas, and replaces the former integration communications director, Catherine Gale, who left the agency earlier this year.

He is charged with boosting the agency's integrated offering, and will report to the newly promoted managing director, Kevin Dundas. It is unclear what his title will be.

Atkinson's arrival comes as Saatchis seeks to build on its creative offering from the initiatives started by Gale. The agency now positions its integrated specialists within its account teams working alongside its above-the-line management, in a bid to encourage staff to think more about other ways of reaching consumers. Atkinson is likely to be working on ways to capitalise on the booming direct marketing sector.

Atkinson joined Interfocus in August 2001, following the agency's acquisition of the business-to-business specialist Grange. He replaced Chris Still, who joined as part of the Osprey management team but left earlier in 2001.

Previously a managing partner at the Omnicom-owned direct marketing agency Tequila, where he worked for six years, Atkinson started out in the industry with spells at Grey and then Wunderman Cato Johnson. He was responsible for launching the Tequila network's Asian offshoot offices, and before leaving for Interfocus was the managing director of its Singapore office. Neither Saatchis nor Atkinson would comment on his appointment.

Gale was hired in April 2001 from Masius with a brief from the then new chief executive, James Hall, to build the direct marketing and interactive services within the agency. Thomas, who replaced the former integrated creative director, Chris Arnold, in January 2001, continues to report to Saatchis' executive creative director, Dave Droga.

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