ABR 2009: Razorfish

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“The biggest thing [in terms of direct] is I think there is recognition, based on demand from clients, of the need for increased accountability and measurement. And digital has proven itself to be one of most efficient channels in the DM arsenal since it's held so accountable, particularly for high consideration products such as autos, financial services and hotels.”
-- Bob Lord, CEO, Razorfish

Interactive ad agency Razorfish was formed in 1995 in New York as a small online marketing firm, which soon received backing from Omnicom. After being acquired by SBI Group and then aQuantive (which had previously combined with agency Avenue A), the result was Avenue A/Razorfish — but when the agency was acquired by Microsoft in 2008, it decided to drop its Avenue A branding. Known for its full integration of marketing and technology, Razorfish is a soup-to-nuts agency that encompasses both the art and the science of DM. Today, a major focus is on social media, which, while still nascent, has caused the agency to rethink the notion of the direct relationship a brand can have with a consumer.  

Year founded: 1995

Headquarters: Seattle, WA

Holding company: Independent subsidiary of Microsoft

Offices: 11

Web site: www.razorfish.com

Major disciplines/capabilities: Advertising and branding, media buying and planning, analytics, search marketing, emerging media, social influence marketing, technology architecture and integration, and user experience.

Key accounts: Carnival Cruise Lines, MillerCoors, Levi's, McDonald's, Mercedes-Benz, Kraft and Starwood Hotels.

Current agency challenges: Razorfish says agencies need to expand beyond their traditional roles of being great communicators, to become great thinkers and problem-solvers as well. Clients need to build transformational experiences that establish a concrete and direct connection between the consumer and the brand. This new role, Razorfish explains, presents a challenge to expand the view of what it means to be a great agency.

Biggest 2009 industry trends: “All of our clients have an increased focus on accountability,” says chief strategy officer Jeff Lanctot. “Clients aren't only pushing us on the tactical level to extract the most value from every dollar, but also in the long term planning level they're pushing us to develop the tools they need to build their business.” Razorfish also hopes to continue to invest in its business intelligence platform for client data analysis as well as continue to build out its ad exchanges. The agency believes social influencing marketing will go more mainstream and mobile marketing will increase.

Top executives:
Bob Lord, CEO; Clark Kokich, chairman; Jeff Lanctot, chief strategy officer; Sydney Hunsdale, chief operating officer; Darin Brown, president, Europe; Lee Sherman, president, Asia-Pacific

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