IQ News: Agency Shifts Rumble Through Silicon Valley


Signifying a trend away from the standalone CD-ROM as a marketing tool, Poppe Tyson earlier this month laid off more than 20 people from its Mountain View, Calif., office and halted all development of CDs that are incompatible with the Web. ‘The revenue is shifting from one base to another,’ said Tom Wharton, Poppe Tyson Interactive president, of the cutback. Wharton said more clients have requested Web-based campaigns.

Although the agency will continue to create CD-ROMs, they will be based on Web programming language and tied to a site on the Web. Previously, its CD-ROMs were developed in proprietary software formats. ‘All of our clients are asking us to convert,’ noted Wharton.

Poppe’s shift comes some six months after its acquisition of Animated Systems & Design, which produces CD-ROMs for the sales and consulting markets. Most of the layoffs hit former Animated staffers absorbed into the agency last fall.

Wharton insisted the change does not mean an abandonment of software development, citing the hire of Ed Tobin as the West Coast office’s first technology director. Tobin comes from Eagle River Interactive, where he was senior technology director. In New York, Poppe hired Preston Bealle, a former J. Walter Thompson executive, as director of on-line advertising. To boost profits in its interactive unit, Poppe hopes to move toward long-term client relationships rather than rely on project work.

Another leading Silicon Valley agency, CKS Group, also has restructured in response to changing market conditions. This month, it dissolved its CKS New Media division, which had launched last fall to house CKS Interactive, CKS Pictures and CKS Enterprises. The last two units continue on their own, while some 80 staffers from CKS Interactive were moved out of their Cupertino offices and reassigned, mostly to positions in CKS Group.

‘From a client’s perspective, there isn’t any change’ in personnel, said CKS chief executive Mark Kvamme. ‘It’s just like someone took the baffles out of the engine.’

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