Yesterday, Circle Graphics announced the purchase of a majority stake in Anthem Displays. Insider interviewed Circle Graphics CEO Andrew Cousin and Out of Home Division President Rod Rackley about the transaction. Here are the highlights.
Cousin says that despite softness in the OOH Division, Circle Graphics has thrived through COVID
The roots of Circle Graphics are in the out of home world. However, over the last 9 years or so we launched and developed… essentially a consumer business… where you can upload a photo and put it on a canvas or other wall décor. We are extremely grateful that we were diversified as we navigated into 2020.
As everyone knows, advertising expenditure for out of home did decline for the year and there was a significantly larger decline in non-billboard out of home advertising such as transit and other small formats. Billboards, however, were largely back at prior year levels by the end of the year.
With our consumer division increasing 60% year on year and our strong billboard focus, we remain in a strong position for the future.
Cousin on Circle Graphics historic relationship with Anthem
Circle’s investment in Anthem goes back to 2015, when we made a small investment in the company. We wanted to support a product that we saw potential in and a team that had a proven record of innovation and success.
Cousin on why Circle Graphics bought a majority stake
I joined Circle in 2012. Circle Graphics had done a nice job and has since further developed a strong market position, reputation, brand, and respect in the out of home industry as a print provider. There’s a convergence going on between traditional and digital billboards and we think there is a place for us to be a trusted visual solution provider to the industry whether that be print for a traditional face or as a producer of high quality digital faces. We believe Anthem’s digital billboard products are a natural extension of what Circle has offered to the industry over the years.
Rackley on synergies between Circle Graphic’s print business and Anthem’s digital billboard business
There is a wide range of synergies. Circle brings sourcing and procurement expertise, additional engineering support, back office support, and sales and customer support.
We have built trust with our customers. We have a proven record of standing behind everything we put in the field.
For independent operators, we will soon be announcing details of the CG Rewards Program – a way to earn additional value from purchases of printed or digital billboards. We think having a one-stop shop will be valuable.
Rackley on Anthem’s Market
You will not see us producing curved digital display for Times Square. If you can’t show video on a billboard, why pay for expensive chip drivers that enable video but are never utilized? We will continue looking for every opportunity to bring the cost of digital billboards down so the industry can further utilize this technology.
Anthem has a proven product with over 260 displays in the field (mostly with Lamar) with excellent reliability, low power consumption, and 10-12 year rated LED lamps.
Anthem’s displays are built with an understanding of the needs of billboard operators. Anthem led the development of the standard 400 mm size module so a billboard owner can reface a display without being dependent on a specific manufacturer.
As we celebrate 20 years in business, we know what billboard operators need — world-class products and world-class service (before and after the sale).
We are going to keep it simple … and do just that!