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Interactive Boss Exits DDB

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Knaisch Shifts To Client Side As Web VP At Level 3
DALLAS--Mike Knaisch, president of DDB Interactive here, has left the agency to join client Level 3 Communications in a new post with responsibility for various Internet activities.
DDB Needham Dallas chief executive and president Jake Schroepfer said a national search for Knaisch's replacement is under way. He did not give a timetable for the hiring, but sources said the decision will likely be made within the next month.
Knaisch, who assumed the top post at the 20-person DDB Interactive operation after the departure of co-managing partner David King in January 1997, has already relocated to Level 3 in Louisville, Colo. Knaisch's title is vice president of Web business at Level 3. He and Level 3 officials did not return calls by press time.
DDB Needham Dallas won the advertising account of the telecommunications and information services company earlier this year, after a review that also included Leo Burnett of Chicago and Winkler Advertising in San Francisco. Billings on the account were initially estimated at $30 million.
Level 3 is developing an advanced fiber optic network across the country that will transmit voice, data and video using Internet Protocol (IP) technology. The company claims IP is less expensive and more efficient than existing circuit-switched phone communications systems.
Internet initiatives are expected to account for a substantial portion of Level 3's marketing activities, which will also include television and print advertising breaking early next year, according to DDB officials.
Schroepfer said Level 3 executives approached him after the account was awarded to discuss the possibility of hiring Knaisch. "They said they were really impressed with Mike . . . it was all very above board. This is a great opportunity for Mike, and the fact that he will be our client is good for us," Schroepfer said.
Knaisch joined DDB Interactive in February 1996 from Richardson, Myers & Donofrio in Baltimore. At Level 3, he will manage the relationship with DDB Interactive and have responsibilities for the creation of Level 3's Web site and customer support applications delivered through it.
Schroepfer said about 20 candidates are being considered for Knaisch's post. DDB Interactive, a division of DDB Needham Dallas formed in 1994, claimed $20 million in 1997 billings. Its highest profile assignment has been the Pepsi World Internet site.