APL Digital was once called “the best kept secret in the business” by Martin Puris, worldwide chief of Ammirati Puris Lintas, the interactive company’s parent agency. Now, with clients such as Ameritech, United Parcel Service, Nestle and Unilever, Puris has more recently been saying that the shop is ready to be heard. And the interactive executive shouting from the rafters is Brian Cauley, who helped found APL Digital. Now, as its president, he is working to make the unit one of the jewels in Ammirati’s global crown.
Cauley, 39, started his advertising career in the media department of what was then known as Benton & Bowles in the early ’80s. Even at that early stage of both his career and the Internet’s development, he became entranced with the selling potential of the Net–capabilities that others weren’t considering, and still may not be. “The Internet isn’t a gratuitous entertainment medium,” he states.
After five years at the rock solid Procter & Gamble shop, he left to form the Manhattan-based Look Communications, a new media consultancy.
In the late ’80s, Cauley began to consult for Ammirati, which was looking more closely at online media as a new marketing venue for its clients. By 1995, the agency was ready to commit to an interactive department, and Cauley was asked to lead it.
He and Evan Lewis, who is now the shop’s co-creative director, started the shop with eight people. Following a July rebranding of interactive divisions in Ammirati’s New York, London, Hong Kong and Sydney offices, the network now boasts over 140 people worldwide, with more than 60 in New York alone.
The Singapore, Amsterdam, Stockholm and Copenhagen offices are currently slated for rebranding, and 15 more are expected to fall under the APL Digital umbrella over the next few years.
Cauley believes APL Digital’s offerings of strategic marketing, creative and design, technology and production, and media services, should combine for a simple purpose. “The days of Internet strategy are behind us,” he says. “Now it’s about who is going to build a better store. It’s about the techniques to sell merchandise.”
Growth–from particular sorts of clients–is Cauley’s main focus. “We want clients for whom the Internet is fundamental to their business,” he says. An airline and a financial services client are on his wish list.
Cauley, who travels domestically weekly and internationally every six weeks, is hoping to expand by hiring a dedicated new business person to build the division’s client base. He also wants to make various domestic and international acquisitions.
He is also driven by his obsession with the convergence of TV and the Internet, and how that will affect advertising and marketing. He says: “Any agency that doesn’t think about it will be a dinosaur.”
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