Butler, Shine Opens Experiential Design Practice

NEW YORK Butler, Shine, Stern & Partners said it is branching into experiential design to build up its interactive capabilities.

The Sausalito, Calif.-based independent hopes to use the practice to enhance its ability to extend advertising concepts into Web experiences and utilities that drive business results. It has hired 10-year digital veteran Kristina Pifer to lead the effort.

“The future will be finding a way to combine brand, innovation, technology and then commerce,” said David Blum, director of Butler, Shine’s interactive unit, SFI.

The agency is no stranger to interactive work. It is prepping the re-launch of BabyCenter.com, an overhaul assignment the shop won in competition with several interactive specialists. (The revamped BabyCenter debuts this month.) For Epson, it has designed a tool that helps consumers find which printers best meet their needs. It is also helping Priceline redesign its homepage and key product pages.

“Shops like ours are going to get [the] opportunity to participate in areas that have been reserved for [digital] shops,” predicted Blum, who prior to joining Butler, Shine was managing director of Web development at aQuantive’s Avenue A/Razorfish.

Blum said too often the interactive work done by traditional agencies is superficial and not tied to actual business objectives, while sites built by Web shops are either highly functional or glossy brand destinations.

“Any shop that is doing purely traditional and ignoring interactive is cutting off their nose to spite their face,” said Blum. “You can say the same thing for any interactive shop purely focused on that medium. It can’t be a one-prong strategy.”