Vizeum to launch globally as network opens for business

LONDON - Aegis's second international media network, Vizeum, has officially opened for business and has laid out plans for aggressive expansion that will see it operating globally by the end of the year, with clients are already signed up as far afield as China.

Vizeum has 17 agencies in 12 countries, but aims to extend that to fill in the gaps in its European network and to open offices in Asia and North America either through acquisition or start-ups.

Speaking at a press conference yesterday, Eric Drancourt, chief executive of the network, said a Swiss office would be opening in a matter of weeks, while offices in Denmark, Belgium, the Netherlands and Eastern Europe would follow.

The company said it already has clients in China as well as an operation, although it had not officially launched.

Vizeum's strategy is to offer media planning and buying services across all channels including PR and DM to help marketers build closer relationships between their brands and consumers.

"Today, clients are increasingly seeking truly independent media advice. They are totally focused on value and effectiveness -- optimising the performance of their international communications budgets," Drancourt said.

The agency will provide clients with research and analysis into consumer behaviour, including their reactions to brands and ads, to enable advertisers to more closely target their audience

Drancourt said that in order to achieve this, the use of media would have to focus higher up the agenda of advertisers' marketing strategies. He said: "But this is only possible where media is freed from the constraints of defending creative solutions and is allowed to influence the marketing strategy."

Vizeum is headed up by Drancourt with Martyn Rattle, former vice-president of Carat International, as chief operating officer.

The regional offices are headed up by national agency heads. Vizeum UK, formerly BBJ, is being run by managing director Trista Grant, who is currently training staff to adopt the new philosophy and is recruiting new people to help drive the business forward.

Last week, it emerged that BBJ communications planning director Tim Elton and planning director Geoff Seeley are planning to set up a Naked-style communications agency.

Vizeum UK managing director Grant is also searching for replacements for these two, although it is unlikely they will be directly replaced.

Seeley and Elton are each on six-month contracts. However, it is expected that they will be released before their contracts expire.

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