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Dish Network Shifts $270 Mil. in Biz to Horizon Media

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Satellite TV carrier Dish Network has awarded independent Horizon Media planning and buying chores for TV, radio and out-of-home channels after a review, the agency and client have confirmed.

Ad spending on the assignment moving to Horizon totaled $270 million in 2009, according to Nielsen. The incumbent was Compass Point Media, a unit of Interpublic Group's Campbell Mithun.

Given the client's extensive use of direct response advertising, Horizon's DR group will manage the business and guide Dish's overall media and marketing strategy, as well as buying and analytics.

"The media landscape today provides great opportunity for innovation and creativity in the planning process, and we look forward to leveraging our best-in-class direct response practice to achieve Dish Network's immediate sales goals," said Gene Turner, Horizon's svp of direct marketing.

The switch comes as Dish has aggressively stepped up its advertising efforts after the return of Ira Bahr to the company as CMO last year. (Read a Q&A with Ira Bahr.)

According to Nielsen, Dish spent about $100 million more in measured media in 2009 -- $310 million overall -- compared to the prior year. In '09, Dish launched a campaign taking on its rival DirecTV, claiming lower prices for comparable offerings. DirecTV sued, and eventually the competitors reached an out-of-court settlement.

Earlier this month, Dish kicked off a major promotion offering HD satellite service to subscribers for free. DirecTV soon followed with a similar salvo.

For Horizon, Dish is the largest of several recent wins, including Re-Bath ($20 million), confirmed earlier this week, and Weight Watchers ($40 million), which the shop snagged in April.

Commenting on the parting of ways, Dick Hurrelbrink, president of Compass Point, said he was "very proud of the work" that the shop did on behalf of Dish for nearly seven years. "I believe we made a significant contribution" to Dish's growth from about 8 million subscribers to 14 million subscribers, he said. "You never like to lose a big client like that, but it's a business of change these days."