2 Look Below the Line

Two agencies have made moves to better coordinate and manage their below-the-line resources.

TBWA\Chiat\Day has hired Robert Birge, a former consultant at Chicago’s Boston Consulting Group, as chief operating officer of TBWA Group. That unit houses Brand Architecture International and is expected to grow through several acquisitions currently in the works.

Separately, J. Walter Thompson has created a dedicated unit called Synergy @JWT to be run by Russ Fujioka, pres ident and chairman of JWT Technology in San Francisco. He takes the titles of president and CEO and reports to North American president Bob Jeffrey. Fujioka, 39, will remain in San Francisco.

Birge, 31, will be based in New York, reporting to Carl Johnson, chief operating officer of TBWA Worldwide and president of the New York office.

Each move illustrates the desire of agency networks to become less dependent on traditional advertising and more connected to alter natives such as direct marketing, interactive marketing and public relations.

“We’ve got a lot of assets all over the place, and we need somebody [to manage them],” said Jeffrey. Fujioka needs to “make sure the delivery system stays simple,” Jeffrey added, by “leveraging the talent from the main agencies,” which include JWT Technology and Digital@JWT.

Birge’s mission: Create a blueprint for marketing services and fortify them via acquisitions, investments and alliances, Johnson said. He added that TBWA\C\D is “in the latter stages of negotiations” to buy four or five companies but declined to name them. He said the network seeks to build its capabilities in direct marketing, promotions and marketing via the Web.

Before Boston Consulting, Birge was an associate brand manager at Miller on the Molson and Miller Lite brands.