When the Eagles made the NFL playoffs last fall, Comcast pitched Wawa "a wonderful opportunity to do some advertising," said Lisa Wollan, head of consumer insights and brand strategy at the Media-based convenience-store chain. But "it was the very last minute," and Wawa's national ad agency, Richards Group of Dallas, reminded Wollan "it's way too expensive to do a new TV commercial for 15 spots on Comcast SportsNet."

So they went online, to Archer Group, an Internet marketing agency, in Wilmington of all places. Creative head Todd Miller's team put together a simple "chalk-talk" cartoon series promoting Wawa hoagies. "These guys grew up local, so they understood our brand, and they understood the Eagles' feel," Wollan told me. "They put together just a charming spot."

Archer was started by Lee Mikles (ex-Insight Interactive Group) and Patrick Callahan (who set up Accenture's Philadelphia internet practice) six years ago in the sleepy-funky 200 block of North King Street. Miller and G2/Refinery veteran Michael Derins, whose past interactive clients include Merrill Lynch and Aramark, are principals. The firm has nearly doubled in size this past year, to 35 people from twenty, and has taken a second floor in an airy brick Buccini/Pollin Group building that used to house part of Delaware's YWCA.

When Wawa put its Web site out for redesign two years ago, says Wollan,  "Mikles and his team blew us away. They're smart, they're energetic, they're very, very creative -- and it's not just unbridled creativity, they have technical skils and creative skills in the same place. They showed us a vision of how they'd redo our website -- which other agencies didn't."

Wawa put brand manager Richards together with Archer, and they relaunched Wawa.com last May, putting Richards' 60s Hoagiefest ads, which have a 60s-vibe "Peter Max feel," into "a site that would make those features move and touch. They found a guy who developed these Beatles-like lyrics. They did four spots that were so good we used them on the site and the microsite," and radio.

They did more of the same for Wawa's Coffeetopia promo last fall. Archer "created this microsite where you could do fun things. Richards wrote the copy. A great collaboration." Archer set up Facebook accounts for Wawa executives, and Facebook widgets that make it possible for customers to send each other "virtual hoagies. Like you'd send a virtual hug." Archer's Wawa work won a gold Addy award and three silvers from the Philadelphia Advertising Club.

Retail was a big step for Archer, whose other clients include an iPhone application for Wilmington's giant Chase Card Services, and banks, insurers and tech companies. "They get retail," said Wawa's Woolan. "Archer is so much hipper than I will ever be."