M&C Saatchi's digital joint venture ready to launch

LONDON - M&C Saatchi and the former itraffic directors Jon Sharpe, Ethan Segal and Matt Gorzkowski are in the advanced stages of setting up a joint-venture digital agency.

Sharpe, Segal and Gorzkowski, who left itraffic suddenly in the summer, are already working at the M&C Saatchi offices. Sources have suggested that negotiations over the size and price of M&C Saatchi's stake in the business are all that is delaying an announcement.

The M&C Saatchi chief executive, Tim Duffy, said: "At the moment we are exploring ways we can work together and I am optimistic that we will find a way to do that." Gorzkowski declined to comment on a joint venture, but said that an announcement of the trio's plans was imminent.

"We are keeping a tight lid on what we are doing but watch this space,"he said."We are excited about the new company but we are still deciding on a name."

M&C Saatchi's only current online offering is through its direct-response subsidiary LIDA. A digital arm would enable the agency to capitalise on its existing abovethe-line relationships.

M&C Saatchi's client Wanadoo is currently at the shortlist stage on its digital account, which itraffic resigned following October's merger with Agency.com.

Another M&C Saatchi client, British Airways, is due to review its digital business, held by Agency.com.

Sharpe, Gorzkowski and Segal worked with the airline at itraffic. Despite speculation that the account could follow them out of the agency, British Airways has stated its support for Agency.com.

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