Instrumental Media Group
Adrian J Cotterill, Editor-in-Chief
There is no love lost between Bob Clarke’s Instrumental Media Group and many folks in the UK digital out of home sector so it was no surprise yesterday when we had half a dozen calls and emails from people claiming that the ‘receivers’ were in at Instrumental Media Group’s office in Chiswick, London.
IMG was once a power house in the industry, with both US and UK bases, half a dozen businesses under its corporate umbrella (ONCE including aka.tv) and at its height employing over 80 people – it could have been a conduit for real good in the industry, however whilst it never did ‘evil’ it certainly was a behemoth with a person at its head that took itself far too seriously and whom seemed hell bent on having an ‘enemy of the day’ each and every day – all in all we hear from far too many people that Bob was a very difficult person to work for.
You can travel far and wide, like we do, Ed and meet loads of really nice people who started off their signage and out of home career with IMG (or at least passed through it at some stage). Many of those folks don’t necessarily bear a grudge against IMG (in many cases it gave them their start in the business) but they always have a story and are always happy to talk about their experience – there are always tales to tell and the stories always describe a tale of epic proportions much like the rise and fall of the Roman empire!
IMG was always going to be on a slippery slope once it lost the contract to supply Tesco Screens with content and scheduling though a half million pound law suit (which they lost and had to pay to someone else) probably didn’t help either.
We were the first to report on Bob Clarke’s new venture back in April – “Any Other Business – 21st century content traders”
June 29th, 2008 at 08:36 @400
It would be good to put some context into the charecter assasination of IMG and Bob. I probably worked with him as much as most and spent an un natural amount of time travelling the world with him. There is no doubt that the man is often difficut and has an enormous ego but do not ignore the genius in him. Instrument needed a foil for Bob which it never succeeded in attracting. If they had then the genius would have been balanced by the other entity on his board and Instrument would be riding high today. There is no doubt that they (and he) paved the way for most and guided many aspects of the “industry” that companies such as Can Media have followed and benefited from. I doubt we have seen the last of Bob and his team but I for one will miss the forward thinking.
BTW, if the law suit referenced relates to the skirmish between Can Media and Instrument then the facts are soemwhat off the mark.
June 29th, 2008 at 20:24 @891
I read your recent post about the demise of IMG. I must say, in all due respect, that I was somewhat upset in the harsh treatment of Bob Clarke in the piece.
Bob is an-in-your face guy. He is also smart, and if he either likes and/or respects you, he will let you get in a word or two edgewise.
There is another side of Bob’s bravado that needs to be considered. 5 or 7 years ago, early industry guys like Bob were taking arrows in the back, as they blazed the trail for the rest of us to follow. Who but a guy like Bob could convince a retail powerhouse like Tesco in those early days that he could power their network with great content? Bob traveled the globe spreading the gospel of digital signage. A lesser approach, by a mild-mannored type, at that time, might have resulted in much less impact. I am not crediting Bob Clark with single-handily building this industry, but I believe that history will bear out his contributions as a leader.
It would be great if you could grant Bob that respect and dignity.
July 24th, 2008 at 21:32 @939
Like Phil Austin, I am one of the “alumni” that either worked with or for Bob Clarke at Instrumental Media Group. In fact, in 2004 Bob and I co-founded http://www.aka.tv, the world’s first news-and-analysis web site which covers our industry. While working with Bob, I had some good times with him and with Phil, travelling and learning about this industry.
Yes, it’s true that it was challenging sometimes to work with Bob. But, I’m sure that some of my former co-workers have said the same thing about me. I have learned a lot about this business from Bob, and I hope that in the future he and I can find mutually beneficial occassions to work together.
Bob’s vision for what he liked to call Captive Audience Networks was really critical as this industry re-emerged from the depths of the 2000-2002 recession. Bob always said that it was inevitable that the big retailers such as Tesco, Wal-Mart Kroger, Carrefour, Target, etc. would eventually come to understand that their stores are a medium, and that they will enhance this historical reality by owning and controlling their own screen-media networks that consumers view inside those stores.
Today, we see Wal-Mart (at least in the USA), stepping up to finance and control its own network. Target has done the same. Bob’s prediction from several years back (an edgy prediction at the time) is one that is now coming to fruition, at least in part.
I’m sure we’ll see more of Bob Clarke in this industry. It’s growing fast now, so there’s lots of room for all of us.
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