Incisor Communications, created so that Bite Communications could take on the Sybase account without dropping any existing clients (PRWeek, April 28), is a tenuous conflict solution. Incisor will be a part of Bite's brand, exist under the same management, and its team members will work on Bite accounts that are not deemed as a conflict with Sybase. The division also allows the agency to pitch for other business that might conflict with existing Bite clients.
In this era of consolidation, an Incisor-like model can help combat minor client crossovers. The unit is a clever solution for those gray areas when a contesting brand might be more of a market customer than competitor. Sun's Karen Kahn, a Bite client, told PRWeek as much last week.
It won't hold up, however, if the firm tries to represent brands that are blatant rivals.
Such conflicts traditionally inspire firms to spin off new shops. Although, Bite began as an independent conflict firm for Next Fifteen to take on the Apple business in the UK, Incisor does not go that far. Bite has no plans to make it into its own entity. As such, some PR pros question if simply giving the new division a different moniker truly qualifies it as a separate brand.
When a firm works with a competitor, clients need to remain confident that their information won't be compromised and that the firm won't promote competing brands to the press. The addition of Incisor gives Bite a good opportunity to increase its billings through a larger client base, but it also risks alienating existing clients who want any agency under the Bite umbrella to focus solely on increasing their market share.