WestWayne Bolsters Direct With BreatheInteractive Buy

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WestWayne Inc., one of the largest independent advertising agencies in the Southeast, has bought BreatheInteractive, an Atlanta direct and interactive marketing shop, for an undisclosed sum.

The acquired agency keeps its name, identity, independent client base and staff. But it will become a wholly owned subsidiary of WestWayne.

"We're going to become WestWayne's direct marketing and interactive arm, really their integration engine," said Heidi Klein, principal and co-founder of BreatheInteractive. "They have had a direct and interactive offering for quite some time, but they have been very lean in terms of staffing."

Based in Atlanta with an office in Tampa, FL, WestWayne has clients like The Sports Authority, Russell Athletic Corp., Publix Super Markets Inc., Southeast Toyota Distributors, SunTrust Banks Inc., BellSouth's Real Yellow Pages and Florida's Natural Growers. Billings last year were $360 million.

The BreatheInteractive acquisition brings agency founders Klein, Mickey Cohen, Erin Greenwald and Scott Hagedorn, all executives with big-brand agency backgrounds. BreatheInteractive was founded in January 2001. It serves clients like Circuit City, technology firm Cysive Inc. and HomeBanc Mortgage Corp. Billings last year were an estimated $3 million.

"WestWayne has a consumer retail focus, and we service a wide range of clients," Klein said. "But we don't assess client potential by category but by their desire to relate to customers on a one-to-one basis.

"But we'll be handling direct marketing and interactive for WestWayne's clients on an as-needed basis," she said.

The agency created the "building living brands" proprietary model for building brand and customer relationships. BreatheInteractive offers services such as direct marketing program development, brand and communications planning, database management, creative development and media.

"Part of the rationale for bringing us in is for WestWayne to be more competitive against the large agency networks that offer integrated services," Klein said.

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