Media Mavens 2010

Media Mavens: Bill Koenigsberg, Horizon Media

Veteran Agency CEO Credits String of Successes to Combination of Talent, Vision, Product, Proprietary Tools

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NEW YORK ( -- Bill Koenigsberg is an extreme rarity in the media-agency business. He's an agency CEO who has more than five years of experience running the same shop. Actually, he has spent more than 20 years captaining Horizon Media, the most successful independent agencies in the industry, and one that has repeatedly bested much bigger competitors in new-business pitches this past year.

Bill Koenigsberg
Bill Koenigsberg
Within the last year the agency has won close to $800 million in new business, including Crown Imports, Weight Watchers, Dish Network, T.G.I Friday's and Lifetime, and has jacked up its annual billings to $2.6 billion.*

"I'm more excited about the business than I have ever been," Mr. Koenigsberg said. "I see ... more opportunities to lead the industry than ever before."

Mr. Koenigsberg attributes the run of success to a coming together of the right talent, vision, product and proprietary tools all at the right time. "Each one standing alone is not the holy grail," Mr. Koenigsberg said. "But when you can put them all together in an understandable and actionable and measurable way, you have a really good story, and that's been a cornerstone of success. There have been other years where we thought we put together great presentations in new-business opportunities, and I wish I could say all of a sudden that we found the magic bullet and won't lose again, but that's not the case; we will."

It's not all about new business, it's also about holding on to existing business. Mr. Koenigsberg, who was named chairman of the 4A's Media Policy Committee in May, has had Geico as a client for nearly 20 years, another rarity in the media-agency world. Ted Ward, chief marketing officer at Geico, said the relationship has lasted so long due to the interest and attention Mr. Koenigsberg and his senior staff provide him with.

"We assume they are good at buying media efficiently and effectively, and I think we can find that in a bunch of different places," Mr. Ward said. "But what separates them is their strategic thinking and the fact that they continue to be an independent operation that doesn't approach the marketplace with large groups of clients behind them. And they treat each client independently."

And there's another reason for Mr. Ward's affection for Mr. Koenigsberg. "Bill in particular is a unique character from the standpoint that we travel with the same sense of humor and the same impatience with stupidity," Mr. Ward said. "He can be a touch impatient but that shows up with the fact that he ends up with really smart people around him who understand him."

Despite the agency's success, Mr. Koenigsberg refuses to let it rest on its laurels. "I suppose it's nice to have the validation that you are putting forth some leadership thinking by winning and retaining business," Mr. Koenigsberg said. "I hope our competitors know they are going to be in for a fight if they see us in a pitch. But never think you have arrived, because once you think you have arrived, the train is going to leave the station without you."

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CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported Horizon's billings as $6.2 billion.