British Media Firms Cautiously Court U.S. ; Opportunities Outweigh Risks for Advertising and Public Relations Growth

By Elliott, Stuart | International Herald Tribune, September 12, 2012 | Go to article overview

British Media Firms Cautiously Court U.S. ; Opportunities Outweigh Risks for Advertising and Public Relations Growth


Elliott, Stuart, International Herald Tribune


The latest British arrivals to the United States show that despite the troubles of the U.S. economy, the opportunities arising from a presence in the United States outweigh the risks.

When it comes to the advertising and media industries, the trans- Atlantic traffic between the United States and Britain has long been robust. Initially, the flow was West to East, but in recent years it has largely gone the other way.

That directional shift is being underlined as two firms based in London set up shop in the United States. One, Frank PR, is establishing its American operation, called Frank PR USA, in New York. The other, Grace Blue, which specializes in finding senior executives for advertising agencies and media companies, is opening offices in New York and on the West Coast.

The two newcomers typify a change in the expansion plans of British firms, in that both are independently owned rather than units of giant holding companies. Of course, the reason may be that by now, almost every major firm with British roots and a well- heeled parent is already in the United States.

Whatever the ownership profile of the latest British arrivals, the start-ups tell a story that has been heard for some time: Despite the troubles of the U.S. economy, the opportunities arising from a presence in the United States outweigh the risks.

"We're certainly entering in with caution and humility," Andrew Bloch, the vice chairman of Frank PR who founded the British firm in 2000 with Graham Goodkind, said during an interview last week in New York. "Someone once said to me that Madison Avenue is littered with the carcasses of failed U.K. agencies, and those words have rung in my head."

Still, Mr. Bloch said, "the U.S. is an incredibly exciting market," partly because of its size and partly because "a lot of our U.K. clients are U.S. companies."

Jay Haines, chief executive of Grace Blue, which has been conducting executive searches since 2006, echoed Mr. Bloch.

"It is interesting how many people" from Britain arriving in the United States "haven't gotten it right," Mr. Haines said in a separate interview, also last week in New York. "They assume because their companies were successful there, they would be successful here."

Even so, "we have to be in this part of the world" because "there is no more important market," Mr. …

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