Horizon Makes Moves to Play In Big Leagues

Horizon Media is expanding into Atlanta and Europe, and is launching a new unit, Horizon Sports Marketing. The initiatives will likely result in Horizon competing against much larger shops than it usually faces and, in an unusual move, selling time for sports teams.

Horizon is in final negotiations for a joint venture with a group that includes Bob Kunith, who was general manager of the former Group W Television Sales’ sports-marketing division. The new unit will represent base ball’s Baltimore Orioles and bas ket ball’s Portland Trail Blazers, among others. It will be led by Rudy Taylor, who runs Horizon’s sports-sponsorship programs. Horizon Sports Marketing will also develop sports tie-ins with clients; it already handles about $40 million in work from clients such as Geico Insurance and Madison Square Garden.

“We recognize 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 Bill Koenigsberg, Horizon president and CEO.

In Atlanta, New York-based Hori zon will come face-to-face with Carat and Initiative Media, among other top players. Dave Strauss, formerly Initiative svp/director of client services in that market, is leading the office, which is looking to hire more staffers. Horizon handles about $20 million worth of business in the region.

The European initiative, Horizon’s first outside the U.S., has been a longtime goal for Koenigsberg [Adweek, Sept. 18]. It will open in Amsterdam on June 1 and will 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.