STX Entertainment has just named Horizon Media as its “agency of record,” which means that Horizon will handle its media planning and buys, strategy, research and analytics and partnerships with promotions. This is a big deal, given that STX has an annual media budget of $350M-$400M that it will spend to promote its 12-15 films a year. The timing also is critical as STX will release two films this year — the psychological thriller The Gift on July 31 from Blumhouse and the crime thriller Secret In Their Eyes on October 23. Written and directed by Billy Ray, it stars Chiwetel Ejiofor, Nicole Kidman and Julia Roberts.
I have not heard “agency of record” since my days as an editor at Ad Age, but Horizon and its President and CEO Bill Koenigsberg are very well respected and well known in the ad world. He and the company have received several awards from the advertising industry. Only three years ago, Koenigsberg was named Industry Executive of the Year by Ad Age. Last year, he was named chair of the ad industry’s trade organization the 4As, becoming the first person from a media agency to hold the position in its 100-year history.
How happy is Horizon to land a $350M-$400M account? Well, the company is used to playing big in the media space. Its client list includes Telemundo and NBC Universo, A&E, Corona and Geico, to name a few. Just to put it in perspective, Horizon has estimated billings of over $5.2 billion. It is headquartered in New York but also has offices in Los Angeles and Chicago. They are quite capable. This is not their first account for motion pictures, having previously handled Film District.
The announcement comes as STX has been ramping up its marketing and distribution teams and gearing up in a big way on the production side. The news came from STX’s Motion Picture Group President and Chief Content Officer Oren Aviv and the company’s President of Marketing for Motion Pictures Jack Pan, who will be overseeing not only The Gift and Secret In Their Eyes but also next year’s already-slated film offerings.
On January 22, STX will release The Boy, a horror film from director William Brent Bell (The Devil Inside), written by Stacey Menear and starring The Walking Dead‘s Lauren Cohan. Next up will be the action-drama The Free State Of Jones on March 11. That one, directed by Gary Ross (The Hunger Games), stars Matthew McConaughey, who won the Best Actor Oscar this year for Dallas Buyers Club.
In making the announcement this morning, STX said it plans to “orchestrate fully integrated campaigns with an eye toward more refined, data-driven and technology-enhanced television targeting; video everywhere extensions; first-to-market opportunities; native and new forms of advertising; and cross-platform media stunts and executions.”
Horizon will be their partner in all of this as it will begin planning and buying all media, including broadcast, cable, syndicated, local and addressable television; digital, mobile and social media; streaming and terrestrial radio; out-of-home; print; video-on-demand, and other emerging media.
The last tidbit from the announcement is that the STX account will be overseen by the Los Angeles office of Horizon by Serena Duff (evp and general manager for the Western Region), Eric Geiger (senior vp and managin director) and Erin Foxworthy (senior vp and managing director for Innovation and Partnerships). At STX, Amy Elkins who oversees media and marketing innovation for the company will be the point person with Horizon to drive media strategy. Worldwide digital marketing and technology head Andrew Runyon will collaborate with Elkins to strategize on and steward digital media.
STX Entertainment is led by Robert Simonds and was co-founded by TPG Capital, a leading global private investment firm with $65 billion of capital under management. In addition to backing from TPG Capital, additional investors include financial partner Hony Capital, a leading private equity firm in China; and business interests of Gigi Pritzker and Beau Wrigley. STX also sealed a deal earlier this month with China’s largest privately held film firm, Huayi Brothers Media Corp, in a three-year pact that begins in 2016. They will be partners on the 12-to-15 picture annual slate.