Barkley Breaks Out Media Unit

Barkley Evergreen & Partners is breaking out its media department as a stand-alone unit as a way to expand its business offerings.

“We concluded our media product in terms of our client roster is as good as anyone out there,” said Scott Aylward, ceo of the Kansas City, Mo., agency. “We think we can compete with anyone out there and succeed.”

For its clients the unit will handle $330 million in media, including planning and buying for Dollar Rent-A-Car, Paramount Parks, Sonic Drive-Ins and planning for Payless ShoeSource. The shop hired Jodi Light, formerly of crosstown shop Light & Associates, to oversee day-to-day operations of the unit, dubbed RunSpotRun.

“She’s somebody who has built a media-buying firm and built it exclusively by herself,” Aylward said. Mike Young, senior vice president of media services for parent company BE&P, will have corporate responsibility over the unit.

With its retail and franchise base of clients, RSR will focus on attracting mid-sized, “super-regional” clients who need local expertise, Young said.

“In our case, the places we’re going to see growth from are mid-level clients with a local expertise,” Young said. “When you look at our retail franchise experience, we’ve got that market pretty well covered.”

Breaking out a media unit was made in response to clients’ increasing willingness to unbundle their accounts, as well as a way to create a new revenue driver in an economic downturn, Young said. He added, however, that the agency’s current clients will be the ones to see the immediate benefits of having a dedicated media company.

“We did this with the intent of servicing our existing clients better,” Young said.

He and Light both admit that the undertaking can be risky, particularly in a time when the media market is dominated by large companies. However, Light said RSR will point to its size and independence as a point of difference.

“Consolidation has led to the point where service has gotten lost along the way,” Light said. “Our agency heritage has been that service is what you’re buying.”