St. Louis Agency Takes Silo Approach

Small St. Louis-based agency Roux Interactive hopes to fulfill the digital needs of companies with presences in the city such as Wachovia Securities, Monsanto, and Energizer. The newly-formed full-service interactive shop is an offshoot of Avatar Studios.

The seven-member Roux team aims to pitch corporate clients directly, in addition to serving the agencies that Avatar, a 30-person production and graphics studio, serves. Avatar has offered interactive services for the past 10 years or so, but the firm believes launching a digital division will help set them apart as truly skilled in digital media, as opposed to lumping digital services along with all others.

The approach veers from what’s become the more common route for agencies moving away from treating interactive as a separate silo.

The full-service interactive outfit resides in the same location as Avatar, and offers Web design, programming, content, and promotion, as well as digital signage and mobile services. Avatar serves B2B and B2C clients, though according to Roux Interactive Creative Director Brad Maglinger, “The vast majority are consumer-based.”

Both Maglinger and Roux General Manager Karen McKinley have a noticed that digital tends to be an afterthought at St. Louis agencies. “Here in St. Louis, agencies have really been trying hard to embrace the interactive community and it’s really fallen short a little bit,” said Maglinger. “It’s a completely different skill set.”

While the Roux team does aim to compete directly with other agencies for accounts, they may have to walk a fine line in doing so since much of Avatar’s digital bread-and-butter has stemmed from agencies outsourcing banner ad and microsite work to them. “We used to be kind of seen as the outsource house,” said Roux’s General Manager Karen McKinley. She left Avatar for two years to explore the ad agency world, and recently served as interactive director for Waylon Advertising.

“We’re going to see ourselves on more of a level playing field,” she added, noting, “We don’t have to be the agency of record…however we can lean on an agency [that doesn’t have] interactive services.”

The company hired a new account rep to go after work directly from corporate clients. “We want to open the door; we want to have the relationship,” said McKinley.

However, Roux doesn’t want to burn any bridges. “We don’t want to completely segregate ourselves from the agency world,” said Maglinger, who said the new agency will continue pursuing work mainly from other agencies for the time being.

Currently, Roux is working on B2B work for Anheuser-Busch. The brewer uses Avatar — and now Roux — to develop educational materials about new products for wholesalers.

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