Software coup for Abbott: Sales potential for in-house program

ABBOTT Mead Vickers, the advertising agency best known for its Sainsbury and Volvo campaigns, has developed an innovative software package for use with Apple computers that could have huge sales potential for the company, writes Neil Thapar.

The development comes amid speculation that Omnicom, the US advertising group, is planning a takeover bid for Abbott. The company's shares have risen 100p to 465p in the past six months. Omnicom already has a 27 per cent stake.

The new software, initially developed for in-house use, enables the company's production studio to transmit pictures of artwork and designs to creative staff and clients via an Apple computer network, instead of by post or courier.

An additional feature enables video images of the users to be merged on the screen, enabling a group to discuss and alter designs from their desks even when hundreds of miles from each other.

Abbott believes it is the first 'text and image exchange system' of its kind in the world and could have wider applications. It plans to appoint a specialist computer marketing firm in the US to mastermind its sales.

The product, called Face-2-Face, generated more than 1,500 inquiries at a recent design exhibition and is being tested by Boeing, the aircraft giant.