Dennis Holt Back In Media Game

Dennis Holt is a buyer again. The executive who launched the concept of unbundled media is back in business.

Holt, 67, who launched U.S. International Media in New York in 1965 and returned to his native Los Angeles five years later to found Western International Media, opens a new buying service in West Hollywood, Calif., today.

The fledgling shop, also named U.S. International Media, begins with a staff of three—the same number that the original USIM and Western began with.

An indefatigable deal maker, Holt grew Western from a small regional buying service to a behemoth. The agency had more than three dozen offices, 2,000 clients (including blue-chip accounts such as Disney) and $5 billion in billings before he sold it to Interpublic Group in 1994 (which renamed it Initiative Media in 2000). His contract with IPG expired at the end of 2002.

The advertising and media community in Southern California has buzzed about the prospect of Holt returning—a possibility he has denied until now. Still, his aspirations for USIM are modest: 10 small accounts within a year, he said.

“I miss the business,” Holt said in explaining his decision to jump back in. “Everybody warned me the business has changed, [but] it’s not about proving anything—if anything, I’ll be subjected to ridicule. But I don’t want to be just another rich guy.”

“Dennis doesn’t like to sit still,” said Zach Rosenberg, evp/general manager for Horizon Media’s Western Region, who was account director on Western’s Disney business from 1995 to 2000. “There’s room in the business for someone like him to pick up some accounts based on relationships.”