Interactive television service appoints direct agency

- Archibald Ingall Stretton has scooped the direct marketing task for the interactive television service, Open..., after a competitive pitch against a handful of undisclosed agencies.

- Archibald Ingall Stretton has scooped the direct marketing task for the interactive television service, Open..., after a competitive pitch against a handful of undisclosed agencies.

The agency will work as Open...'s strategic direct marketing partner, operating hand-in-hand with the advertising agency, Ogilvy & Mather, to prepare for the service's full launch in the autumn.

A media planning and buying agency has yet to be announced. It is thought that Open... is compiling a shortlist of agencies to pitch.

From the spring, Open... will begin to roll out the first national interactive services. These will include home banking, shopping, information, free e-mail and games. To date, Open... has announced partnerships with Iceland, HSBC, Argos, Somerfield, Dixons, Woolworths, First Call and Shop!, as well as signing up Unilever and Ford as interactive advertisers.

AIS and O&M's work will launch in the autumn, and the two agencies will work closely together on branding and strategy.

Stuart Archibald, a managing partner of AIS, said: "The key is working with the content providers and coming up with acquisition programmes and strategies to ensure continual use. We set out to work with clients that are innovators in the market, which need to build strong brands and customer relationships at the same time. Open... is certainly one of those clients."

Nick Mercer, the marketing director of Open..., said: "The appointment of AIS is another step in creating a strong and proactive team working towards our full marketing launch in the autumn."

The appointment comes in the week that research by the investment bank Dresdner Kleinwort Benson gave a positive appraisal of Open..., giving it a valuation of £1.23 billion. The report says that the service will have a subscriber base of at least five million in six years, adding: "In our opinion, this is more than any ISP can hope to achieve in the UK."





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