Perhaps the best demonstration of how integrated

Perhaps the best demonstration of how integrated Butler, Shine’s model is came in the form of a somewhat backhanded compliment last year from executives at Coca-Cola’s Sprite: Having been awarded the interactive agency-of-record assignment for the brand in May 2005, the client “didn’t even know we had a traditional side of the business,” recalls Greg Stern, the shop’s chief executive.

But it was also proof that the strategy Butler, Shine had employed to build on its interactive expertise had worked: In 2003 it bought online specialist SF Interactive, then kept the brand alive, in name at least. (The agency group has only one P&L.) It was imperative because without an interactive brand under its roof, Stern says, the agency “wouldn’t have the credibility.”

Of course, having digital cred doesn’t hurt when it comes to building strong interactive presences for any client. For Sun Microsystems, the agency has taken the client’s network computing event Web site and turned it into an interactive destination for the company’s quarterly updates on its initiatives. These include not only a Webcast, but opportunities to ask key Sun executives questions.

Butler, Shine’s most noteworthy interactive work may well be the Converse Gallery, which originally launched in August 2004, but not because the agency developed any of the dozens of short film homages to the cult brand that populate the site. Those were created by Converse devotees, with the agency and client simply providing the forum in which their work can be seen.

In a sign of how advertising has come full circle in the digital age, some of the shorts have in turn become television commercials.

Next up for Butler, Shine: its first work on the BMW Mini account, which the agency won in December. Expect to see some fun creative coming out for the brand. And, oh yeah, maybe even some television commercials.