Seeking the Perfect Chemistri

Leo Burnett’s recently renamed interactive division, Chemistri, may partner with other companies in the Bcom3 network and could become a separate division under the holding company.

“The global aspect of the Internet leads us to think about what we must be doing to build the business,” said Chemistri co-CEO Kurt Karlenzig. “For the time being, we’re looking at our opportunities and alignments with Leo Burnett.”

Chemistri in Chicago now has 50 staffers; when it debuted seven years ago, it had seven employees. Formerly known as the Digital Garage, it operated under Burnett’s Capps Digital print-production studio, helping on integrated campaigns and Web sites for Burnett clients such as Kellogg and Kraft.

The unit also assisted on new business pitches with interactive “leave behinds” that allowed potential clients to review presentations, work and have their questions answered through Web sites.

The opportunity to provide such integration for Burnett’s Bcom3 partners led the company to rebrand itself from Digital Garage to Chemistri and restructure its management under Karlenzig and co-CEO Chris Miller.

Other holding companies have both agency-affiliated and free-standing interactive units. IPG, for example, has Zentropy Partners that is separate from its agency networks, which also have their own offerings such as Lowe Digital. Omnicom also has agency affiliated interactive shops, as well as Communicade, which oversees several interactive units.

The move raises questions about Burnett’s majority stake in its other interactive company, Giant Step. Though Giant Step was rumored to be considering a break from Burnett, either through a sale or buying itself out [Adweek, Aug. 14], Karlenzig said the network can use both units, due to the breadth of “interactive space.”

Giant Step officials could not be reached for comment.