Media indies take on networks with consortium

A global media consortium, comprising independent agencies, is being launched as an “alternative” to the big networks. Called Columbus Media International, it launches this week with $4.2bn (£2.3bn) in combined billings from 13 media agencies

A global media consortium, comprising independent agencies, is being launched as an “alternative” to the big networks. Called Columbus Media International, it launches this week with $4.2bn (&£2.3bn) in combined billings from 13 media agencies around the world.

BLM, the UK’s biggest independent media agency, is a driving force behind the launch of Columbus Media International.

Nick Lockett, chairman of both BLM and Columbus, says: “It’s the only serious alternative to multinational networks and is long overdue. We’re going on the offensive, taking the networks on at their own game with a tried and tested network of partners hungry to compete on the global stage.”

BLM will be one of the three main partners, along with Horizon Media of the US – the world’s largest media independent – and Cossette Media of Canada.

The network will offer coverage of Europe, North America, The Russian Federation and Asia. Two central hubs are being established in London and New York to manage clients’ business and pitch for regional and global new business.

Day-to-day running is split between newly appointed managing director for Europe, Kate Williams, and managing director for the Americas, Oliver Maletz. Bill Koenigsberg of Horizon Media and Pierre Delagrave of Cossette Media will be vice-chairmen of the venture.

The launch of Columbus comes as BLM releases research that suggests marketing directors are increasingly dissatisfied with multinational media agencies.

The survey of clients, conducted by EMM International, found that 84% believe networks have agency deals with media owners as well as client deals. Nearly half (48%) of those who have gone through consolidation of their retained media agency have seen no tangible benefits. Three-quarters (73%) believe that media networks artificially influence media channel selection.

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