Omnicom Builds New Digital Network

NEW YORK Omnicom Group is building a new digital creative network called Redurban, according to sources.

The holding company is forming the network around Amsterdam, the Netherlands-based digital creative agency Redurban, which it purchased in the first quarter. At present, it is adding Dallas Web agency Virion and opening offices in London and New York.

The expanded Redurban operation is launching with about 200 employees. It claims several Dutch clients, including the national lottery, and Virion accounts such as Arby’s, the U.S. Air Force and Chili’s.

Omnicom officials could not be reached for comment.

The goal, per sources, is to form a global digital operation along the lines of AKQA, with strong expertise in marketing and creative. Omnicom already owns several leading interactive agencies, including Organic and Agency.com, and holds half ownership in Critical Mass. But all three are mainly known for building large Web sites.

When it first purchased Redurban, Omnicom planned to fold it into Tribal DDB. It is reversing course by augmenting Redurban with Virion, a conflict shop Tribal set up last year for the Arby’s business. (McDonald’s is a major Tribal client.)

The move by Omnicom comes as competitors have rushed to enhance their digital assets. WPP Group has added Schematic, 24/7 Real Media and, most recently, Blast Radius. Publicis Groupe in January paid $1.3 billion for Digitas, which it is building out as its global digital advertising organization. More recently, it added Web agency Business Interactif to bolster its presence in France, Japan and China.

Omnicom has taken a different route by growing existing digital assets, though it did purchase a 50 percent stake in EVB, a San Francisco i-shop, and made an investment in Millions of Us, a virtual-world development firm.

Omnicom is currently looking for a CEO to helm Redurban, per sources.

Redurban will remain strictly a creative shop, unaligned with any of Omnicom’s major ad agency networks, per sources.