Horizon Eyeing the Big Leagues

Bill Koenigsberg was in Century City, Calif., last week to launch Horizon Media’s new offices here, but the media shop’s CEO had much to celebrate around the country and abroad.

New York-based Horizon is expanding into Atlanta and Europe and launching Horizon Sports Marketing. These initiatives will likely ensure it competes against much larger shops than it usually faces, and, in an unusual move, sell time for sports teams.

Horizon is in final negotiations for a joint venture with a group that includes Bob Kunith, GM of the former Group W Television Sales’ sports-marketing division. The unit will represent base ball’s Baltimore Orioles, bas ket ball’s Portland Trail Blazers and other teams. It will be led by Rudy Taylor, who runs Horizon’s sports-sponsorship programs.

Horizon Sports Marketing will also develop sports tie-ins; it already handles about $40 million in work from clients such as Geico Insurance and Madison Square Garden.

“It’s difficult to be both buyers and sellers of time, so [the unit] will be spun out into a separate corporation … where we will have an equity interest,” said Koenigsberg.

In Atlanta, Hori zon will square off against Carat, Initiative Media and other top players. Dave Strauss, formerly svp/director of client services at Initiative in the market, is leading the office, which is looking to hire more staffers. Horizon handles about $20 million worth of business in the region.

“We seem to do very well on their territories,” said Koenigsberg about his larger rivals. (In L.A., headquarters for Initiative, Horizon bills in excess of $120 million.)

The European office, Horizon’s first outside the U.S., has long been a goal of Koenigsberg’s [Adweek, Sept. 18, 2000]. It will open in Amsterdam on June 1 and be led by the former managing directors of OMD Netherlands, Marc Strijeveen and Peter Teillers. In Europe, Horizon does work for History Channel International and Hostpro.