U.K. Media Shop Plots Expansion To New York

Michaelides & Bednash, the award-winning British media strategy consultancy, will try to replicate its success in the U.S.
The London-based company will open in New York by the end of this year or early next year, said co-founder and managing partner George Michaelides. M&B will staff its office with media and account planners from both the U.S. and the U.K.
The agency was started in 1994 by Michaelides, a media director with stints at London agencies GGT and Howell Henry Chaldecott Lury + Partners, and managing partner Graham Bednash, who also worked at both shops. The agency has attracted clients with accounts worth a total of $180 million, including Channel 5, Britain’s newest TV station, and Tango, a soft drink from Britvic.
The agency’s business model involves no media buying. Instead, it emphasizes media planning and strategy as integral to the start of the creative process. “The medium is more important than the message,” is an agency mantra. M&B then works with a traditional ad agency to coordinate execution of the creative work.
Although M&B has yet to sign up a U.S. client, Michaelides said he has received encouragement from some American businesses. “Large companies in the U.S. are looking for change and fresh thinking.” He acknowledged, however, that the majority of clients and agencies would be skeptical.
“I can’t see this approach becoming a major business in the U.S. However, I could see this kind of company gaining a toehold by attacking agencies with weak strategic media planning capabilities,” said Rich Hamilton, chief executive of Zenith Media USA here.
“It’ll be hard for them but this market certainly could use this type of fresh thinking. They’re the best of [their] class,” said Douglas Atkin, director of strategic planning at Merkley Newman Harty in New York.
M&B’s plans come as U.S. media services continue to grow and amid the recent arrival U.K. media buyers such as Zenith and Carat International.