Next Fifteen builds a digital shop

SAN FRANCISCO: Next Fifteen is launching a digital agency, tentatively called Project Metal, which will compete for digital marketing business.

SAN FRANCISCO: Next Fifteen is launching a digital agency, tentatively called Project Metal, which will for digital marketing business.

The new endeavor will develop Web services and products for Next Fifteen's existing clients, but the company also expects the new firm will bring in its own accounts. David Hargreaves, North America GM for Next Fifteen's Bite Communications agency, will lead the project, in conjunction with Nick Rappolt, director of Bite UK.

It is slated to launch on November 1 and will be based in San Francisco where Hargreaves is also stationed.

Next Fifteen plans to ramp Project Metal's capabilities quickly, most likely through acquisitions because the holding company doesn't currently possess some of the skills required for the shop, Hargreaves noted.

The agency will specialize in tasks like real-time data, digital assets for communications campaigns, and digital channels. It is expected to give Next Fifteen additional leverage in competing not only with digital shops, but also to go against ad agencies for clients, he added.

“We will definitely be going after budgets that aren't traditionally PR budgets,” Hargreaves noted. “It will be broader marketing budgets or even beyond that if you look at cross-departmental consulting.”

Tom Galvin, partner at Bite's sister public policy firm 463 Communications in Washington, will take on a dual role as GM for North America for Bite, in addition to retaining his post at 463. Hargreaves will continue to serve on Bite's group board and will be responsible for driving the agency's global digital strategy.

“We're consulting very heavily with the Next Fifteen client base as we build this out,” Hargreaves said.

Because Galvin won't be as involved in the agency's day-to-day operations, Bite also named Tony Hynes, SVP, GM of the West Coast, and Sean Mills, VP, to GM of New York.

Separately, Next 15 said today that it had acquired marcomms firm Upstream Asia, which it will incorporate into Bite's network. The acquired business has offices in Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Sydney.

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