Campaign Supplement on BMP DDB 1968-1998: THE BMP FAMILY - BMP interAction. As new-media hype turned into reality, BMP decided to set up its own specialist unit. By Jon Scott

BMP interAction is not a production house. This is something it’s very keen to stress. And it explains why, despite offering a wide range of strategic services, an impressive client list and a number of awards, BMP DDB’s interactive marketing division still has only 13 staff.

BMP interAction is not a production house. This is something it’s

very keen to stress. And it explains why, despite offering a wide range

of strategic services, an impressive client list and a number of awards,

BMP DDB’s interactive marketing division still has only 13 staff.



Instead, it positions itself as a comprehensive interactive marketing

consultancy service for new media such as the internet and digital

TV.



BMP interAction’s services are divided into three core areas: strategic

consultancy and planning; production and maintenance (in reality,

managing the production outsourcing); and online media planning and

buying.



In practice, this has included acting as the strategic and online

marketing agency for Associated New Media’s ’This is London’ website

(www.thisislondon.



com), and handling the pounds 200,000 online launch campaign for

Reuters’ Sportsweb (www.sportsweb.com).



Other clients include Barclaycard, Bestfoods, Budweiser, 10 Downing

Street, Gillette, ICL, McVitie’s, Pepsi, UK Plus, UUNet and Vodafone

Paging.



BMP interAction was formed at the end of 1993 by a group of BMP ad staff

interested in the internet, among them Ross Sleight (now the strategy

director) and Jason Goodman (now the business director). Chris Rayner,

BMP interAction’s other lynchpin, joined later as its new-media

director.



’In many ways, our formation was a defensive measure by the group,’ says

Sleight. ’There was hype about this ’interactive TV’ thing and BMP’s TV

buying side was worried by this.



So we set up a working party to look at new media and what it could

offer existing clients.’



About two years ago, the defence mechanism went on the offensive,

securing Bertelsmann and Associated Newspapers as clients - and the

fundamental decision was made to outsource all web production. BMP’s TV

division didn’t have any producers, went the thinking, so why should the

new-media arm?



’The briefs we work on call for different resources, whether it’s

front-end design or database management,’ says Goodman. ’We decided we

could offer clients better value by choosing production houses for each

specific job.



The fact we recently sold our 50 per cent stake in the production house,

Online Magic, which we helped found, shows what a fundamental belief

this remains for us.’



For clients facing the evangelical world of new media for the first

time, BMP interAction’s offline ancestry can be confidence-inspiring -

certainly BMP as a whole relishes pitching as a collective agency. If

concrete examples of this are few - the UUNet account being one - about

half the clients won independently are nevertheless shared between the

online and offline divisions and assigned a single project team.



The new-media division is shortly moving to new premises, but it’s

determined to ensure the lines of communication do not suffer. The fact

that James Best, chairman of the main agency, is also chairman of BMP

interAction and responsible for DDB’s international new-media operation,

underlines the integrated nature of the offering.



’We’re not a department, but a business BMP has invested heavily in, and

the last thing we want to do is damage our, or BMP’s, credibility,’ says

Sleight.



’We’ve got to the stage where we often tell existing BMP clients we

don’t think the web is ready for them yet, or spend a fair bit of time

on expectation management. Of course, we try to make sure that the

internet is fundamental to the business plan of any clients we work

with.’



That may not mean a website. The range of strategic services allows for

lateral thinking, Rayner says. He cites Budweiser’s ’borrowing’ of the

World Cup area on Sky Sports’ site as an example.



’Our challenge was to develop an online campaign targeting 18- to

34-year-olds, substantiating Budweiser’s wider above-the-line

sponsorship of the World Cup and raising brand awareness. Sky was

attracting two million visitors a month to its site, and its usership

was matched to Budweiser’s target audience. If we had produced a

website, it would have likely remained dormant like many World Cup

sites.’



Rayner could also have referred to the cyberpet promotion for Jaffa

Cakes from McVitie’s earlier this year. Based on the Orangey Tang

characters from the brand’s above-the-line advertising, the campaign

allowed children to download animated versions of the characters from

the Jaffa Cakes website (www.jaffacakes.co.uk) or the children’s area of

America Online.



If fed enough Jaffa Cakes, the Orangey Tangs let the child enter a

competition on the site to win a year’s supply of Jaffa Cakes or an

Orangey Tang toy.



This allows McVitie’s to collect e-mail addresses and alert children

when a new cyberpet is introduced.



’Return on investment lies at the heart of our belief,’ says

Goodman.



’If we’re going to move the medium forward and persuade clients to take

risks, we must offer a proven return on investment, be it through data

gathering or increased sales. Digital TV offers a new collection of

risks, so it’s crucial we understand how interactivity can help our

clients’ sales process, even if that work is just filling in a loop of a

client’s commerce cycle.’



However, commercial cycles had nothing to do with BMP interAction’s most

prestigious project: developing the official website of 10 Downing

Street (www.number-10.gov.uk). Updated daily, the site acts as an

ongoing news and information service - and building it involved four

production companies.



’It was exciting making the portal to the UK Government,’ says

Sleight.



’We didn’t think we’d get the job due to BMP DDB’s role in bringing

Labour to power, but we went for it anyway and, amazingly, won. What’s

great is that it was about openness and making information accessible,

which is how we see ourselves.’



Other recent account wins bring a different sort of prestige and more

money. Gillette has appointed BMP to handle the media buying for a

forthcoming online ad campaign, rumoured to be costing a six-figure sum

and targeting 16- to 34-year-olds.



’I suppose in revenue terms we make up about 1 per cent of BMP as a

whole,’ estimates Goodman, ’although our knowledge of new media and our

clients infiltrates the whole agency. BMP interAction is growing fast -

we’ll number about 20 by the middle of next year.



’Probably the best indicator of how we’re doing is that, although some

new-media projects have come to an end, we haven’t lost a client

yet.



Nor has anyone left our team. I hope that says quite a lot.’



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