Story Worldwide Takes Byte for Digital

NEW YORK Custom communications shop Story Worldwide is adding digital capabilities by joining with Byte Interactive.

Story works for clients like Degree and Lexus, creating everything from specialty magazines and Web extensions to video-on-demand programs. It recently collaborated with Byte in Norwalk, Conn., on CTU: The Rookie, a Web-based series for Unilever’s Degree deodorant.

“We’re entering a post-advertising age where consumers are beginning to dictate how content is created,” said Simon Kelly, COO of Story. “Brands are having to create content themselves that is useful and entertaining.”

The combined agency, which will continue under the Story name, will have 160 staffers and offices in London, New York, Norwalk and Seattle. It will claim about $30 million in revenue, Kelly said.

Story was formed in 2005 following a management buyout of the Publishing Agency, a custom unit owned by Interpublic Group. It was later combined with Fluent Communications. Byte was founded in 1997 and has built Web sites and crafted marketing programs for clients like Nestle.

“We came to the realization that the future of brand marketing was bigger than a channel idea,” said Mike LeBeau, CEO of Byte, who will serve as chief marketing officer of Story. “It was helping companies tell a much richer story about a brand and translating that story through a variety of channels—digital being an important one but not the only one.”

Byte has its own expertise in branded entertainment. In 2005, it created a series of “Spraychel” animated Webisodes for Unilever’s I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter.

LeBeau said Story’s staff of former magazine editors are better versed than agency copywriters in creating content that connects with consumers.

“Consumers today are screaming that we’ve been feeding them so much untruths and B.S. over the last 40 years that they don’t want to hear from us,” he said.