IQ News: Darwin to Spur Saatchi’s New Media Evolution

Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising is expected to make public its plans for a new online media unit, called Darwin Digital, next week.
Saatchi is planning to announce, among other developments, the hiring of former Saatchi new media executive Audrey Fleisher as the unit’s executive creative director, and an online alliance with an educational firm so that it may offer kid- and education-oriented Web sites for clients.
As expected [Adweek, May 5], Darwin Digital will be run by Saatchi & Saatchi Interactive vice president Coby O’Brien, who will report to Tony Dalton, who is vice chairman of Saatch & Saatchi North America. O’Brien’s title is not yet known. Dalton is heading up Saatchi & Saatchi Vision, a holding company that may acquire or develop other new media companies in the future.
“As any agency [does], we are looking at all sorts of media,” said Dalton.
O’Brien and his staff have worked mostly on the creative side of new media, developing large Web sites, for clients such as Procter & Gamble, General Mills and Toyota. Most technological work has been outsourced. With the launch of Darwin Digital, however, all interactive work is expected to eventually be handled in-house, and the department will be expanded depending on the number and types of clients, said Dalton.
Saatchi clients are expected to move their interactive assignments to Darwin from the Saatchi agencies that previously handled new media projects, except in Los Angeles, where Saatchi & Saatchi Interactive will continue to service Toyota.
To further round out Darwin Digital, other digital media disciplines will be added over time. For now, online media buying and planning duties will be moved from Zenith Media to Darwin, according to Dalton. Zenith has handled online media for Saatchi client Bell Atlantic. Darwin outposts will also be opened in the agency’s Los Angeles and San Francisco offices.
In New York, new hire Fleisher will oversee all creative duties and report to O’Brien. The executive is returning to the Saatchi fold following a 21-month stint as director of Deutsch Interactive, which produced the Tanqueray Web site.
The launch of the new Saatchi online unit, especially if it eventually features all Web capabilities, will move it into a competitive arena with the TN Technologies, Poppe Tyson and CKS Group, all of whom boast complete marketing and technological expertise.
Separately, Young & Rubicam announced the formation last week of Brand Dialogue, a partnership between Y&R-owned agencies Young & Rubicam and Wunderman Cato Johnson. The unit, which will have headquarters in New York and offices around the world, aims to provide “digital interactive branding and digital commerce.” Brand Dialogue will be headed up by Mike Samet, executive vice president at Y&R.