Following Rise in Business, Dish Network Said to Be Searching for Agency

Satellite Provider Has Mostly Relied on In-house Advertising

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NEW YORK ( -- Echostar-owned Dish Network is reaching out to agencies for creative ideas on its $200 million-plus advertising account as the embattled satellite company shows signs of emerging from a business slump, industry executives said.

The search comes under Ira Bahr, Dish Network's senior VP-chief marketing officer, who returned to the role in February. Mr. Bahr's first stint at the Englewood, Colo.-based satellite provider came in 2000, when he served as its CMO for two years.

He most recently was chief operating officer of adult pay-per-view and video-on-demand service provider New Frontier Media, and before that spent time at Sirius Satellite Radio. Early in his career, Mr. Bahr worked on the agency side, including a 13-year run as an account director at Omnicom Group's BBDO.

A representative for Dish declined to comment, but executives familiar with the marketer say the company currently has no creative agency of record, and that the majority of its recent advertising has been handled by a sizeable in-house operation.

In the past the company has used outside agencies, working with West Coast shops such as Publicis in Seattle, and the Woo Agency in Culver City, Calif.

The search for fresh ad ideas comes as Dish Network, the second-largest satellite TV provider in the U.S., is coming out of a year-plus slump from stiff competition from DirecTV, cable operators and telco TV providers such as Verizon Fios. The company added 26,000 subscribers in the second quarter of 2009, its first gain in five quarters. It attributed the new customers to the digital TV transition in June.

While most marketers were cutting ad dollars, the Dish Network boosted its marketing budget by nearly $100 million between 2007 and 2008, according to TNS Media Intelligence, from a total of $175 million to $267 million devoted to domestic measured media. For the first six months of 2009, Dish Network shelled out $182 million, TNS data shows.

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