As dotcom fever burns ever more ferociously in Europe and not just
the US, European networks are beginning to take action rather than
simply talk about their on-line capabilities. One such example is TBWA’s
group in France, Groupe BDDP, which this month has created a dotcom arm
- with a difference.
Comwebco is described as ’more than an internet division within a group’
by its initiator, the TBWA France chief executive, Nick Baum. Instead of
being tacked on to the group, it consists of representatives from the
group’s seven divisions, encompassing advertising, interactive, PR,
design, marketing services, media and corporate identity.
Yet the group already has the leading interactive company in France -
BDDP Tequila Interactive. Why not expand or improve its offering rather
than create a whole new entity?
’Using representatives from each of the divisions allows us to apply
specific areas of expertise in an e-commerce environment,’ Baum
’What this means is a broader offering. The process is all-encompassing,
enabling us to get involved from the earliest stages to the final launch
The company proposes to work with start-ups from the ideas stage through
to developing a business plan, approaching venture capitalists,
developing a brand and corporate identity, website, database management
system and, finally, on or offline advertising. It will also monitor and
analyse consumer response.
One new client for whom it will offer all of these services is
uniondream.com - a company which aims to attract a large number of
consumers to a product or service to drive down the price. The kind of
things being offered are dream holidays and speciality cars. For other
clients, such as QXL.com, the company will provide just some of the
And in the case of start-ups, the company promises to take up to half of
its remuneration in the form of equity, once it has covered its
The hope is that the stock will float, making dot.com millionaires out
of its agency staff.
Baum claims that, like elsewhere, e-commerce is exploding in France.
Last June, there were 600 French commercial websites. By November that
figure had risen to 1,500.
And the boom is predicted to continue, with the European market expected
to grow four times faster than the US. It is claimed that by 2003, 72
million people will be online in the US, with Europe hot on its heels
with 52 million internet users.
BDDP France has taken the lead from its Los Angeles office. Predicting
that web companies will soon account for more than 20 per cent of its
gross income, the office has undertaken a number of e-commerce
initiatives, including a recent week-long training course for clients
and agency staff alike.
Baum says: ’The agencies in the US and France are leaders in the
interactive field. Yet the whole area is so hot that it is vital for us
to pre-empt our leadership position with something truly innovative.’