Ad Association Picks Epigram for Interactive

The International Advertising Association, an organization of advertisers, agencies and media, has named Epigram, Chicago, as its interactive agency.

Twelve agencies pitched and three made the final round, two of which were based in New York. Carbon Media, New York, was the agency until it folded in March.

The mandate is to address issues facing the New York-based association's Web site.

“We're trying to fix the speed with which we can upload stuff, we're trying to in that fashion keep the information absolutely current, and then we're hoping to create some sort of interactive dialogue with our members around the world,” said Wally O'Brien Jr., director-general of the IAA.

Epigram's experience in creating Web communities worked in its favor. The IAA plans to create a site that fosters a community of brand builders and the feeling that it is a global community but with grassroots sensibilities.

“They had a large hurdle to overcome because we had made it clear in the beginning that we were going to be New York-biased,” O'Brien said.

Epigram will handle Web hosting, redesign the IAA site and develop chat rooms.

“What we're going to do is, each community will be able to add to the Web site in their own language,” he said.

For example, he said, there will be a medium for Chinese. Local Chinese IAA chapters will be able to add content in Mandarin or Cantonese. Members can access and read in their own language. Translations will be done with care to avoid misunderstandings.

O'Brien has sought to broaden the IAA's scope since taking over in July as director-general. The association has 3,400 individual and 955 associate members in 95 countries, plus 55 organizational members, 80 corporate members and 57 chapters in major international centers.

“We're going to open our membership to anyone who has a stake in the branding process, so that includes package design, market research; we'd love direct marketing [companies and agencies] if they'd like to join us,” he said, adding that such outreach will begin in September.

“I'm not looking to poach members from the Direct Marketing Association, but should any other members want to approach us, we would welcome them, as we have members from the Association of National Advertisers and the American Association of Advertising Agencies,” he said.

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