R/GA Focuses on Retail

NEW YORK R/GA CEO Bob Greenberg likes to talk about not just the three screens, but four, adding in-store digital displays to TVs, computers and cellphones.

Now, the Interpublic Group agency is starting a unit dedicated to bringing interactive experiences to the retail environment.

John Jones, a technical creative director, will lead the division, which builds on in-store digital display work R/GA has already done in the past decade for clients like Verizon and Nike.

The practice focuses on digital product demonstrations, signage and new avenues for bringing interactive technology to stores, such as using motion sensors to display information based on a customer’s interactions with a piece of merchandise.

“It’s mostly about building usable tools for customers and sales staffs, and trying to engage people to learn about products and building useful experiences,” said Jones, who has worked at R/GA full-time for the past four years. Before that, he spent four years freelancing on projects for the shop.

By formalizing a retail practice and hiring a dedicated team, R/GA hopes to do more work for clients looking to adopt the agency’s usability and e-commerce expertise to their stores, Jones said.

“It’s not about putting a machine in the store that’s a Web site,” he said. “You don’t want to bring e-commerce back in the store because commerce is already in the store.”

The in-story practice follows a move by R/GA last October to create a mobile division, the Mobile and Emerging Media/Applications unit, which followed on the widely hailed work the shop did on Nike+, a wireless system allowing runners to record workouts on their Apple iPod Nanos via chips in their running shoes. The data is then fed to a social networking site where runners can interact.

That group, under the direction of Rich Ting, now has eight staffers.

R/GA is far from new to the in-store space, having worked on several projects in the area. Last year, it expanded its work for key client Verizon to include designing 70 touch-screen-driven kiosks for its new Verizon Experience stores that helped salespeople show off product capabilities.