IQ News: Eagle River, Interactive Solutions to Flock Together?




Following its acquisition by Omnicom Group late last month, Eagle River Interactive looks as though it is headed for a different future within the agency holding company than other Omnicom new media investments.
In finalizing operational details of the $13.5 million acquisition, sources said Omnicom is preparing to merge the company with Interactive Solutions, the 25-person Cambridge, Mass.-based shop. Interactive Solutions is one of the six new media companies in which Omnicom has a minority investment. Although in the past, all of Omnicom’s new media holdings have been housed, intact, under the Communicade banner, the newly formed unit would mark the first time that Omnicom has sought to merge two of the companies in which it has an interest. Sources said two new media agency heads have been approached by a headhunter to run the proposed group, which has yet to be named.
Interactive Solutions referred calls regarding a potential merger to Omnicom executives, who could not be reached for comment. Communicade managing director Felice Kincannon also would not comment. However, principals of the six shops in the Communicade division (Agency.com, Interactive Solutions, Organic Online, Razorfish, Red Sky Interactive and Think New Ideas) have been told by top Omnicom and Communicade officials that Eagle River would be merged into Interactive Solutions.
“Communicade will not expand” the number of shops in the division, said one Communicade agency chief.
Chris Butler, Interactive Solutions president, is not expected to lead a combined group, which would total some 200-plus staffers. The combined company would have eight offices in the U.S. and one overseas, in Paris.
Although Omnicom would seem to have a broad array of potential suitors for Eagle River within its new media holdings, Interactive Solutions may well be the best fit. The bulk of Interactive Solutions’ work, like Eagle River’s, is in marketing technology.
Agency.com and Think New Ideas are busy with acquisitions of their own and Organic is viewed as well-rounded and big enough to succeed independently. The intensely creative cultures of Red Sky and Razorfish make those shops bad matches with the technology-focused Eagle River.
Eagle River boasts Sprint as a leading client. Just before the company was put up for sale by its parent company, Eagle River Inc. in August, Sprint awarded all of its interactive advertising business to Eagle River. Billings for the assignment are estimated at $20 million, a huge sum in the online advertising business. The agency has also completed extensive Web site work for Sharp Electronics as well as CD-ROM, intranet and kiosk projects for blue-chip companies including Sony, Disney, Merrill Lynch and Apple.