Botway Explores New Territory as Head of OMD East

Jill Botway is many things: veteran media buyer, lawyer, anthropologist, entrepreneur and mother.

This week, Botway, who has directed documentaries for National Geographic and chartered remote regions of Sumatra, begins her new post as managing director for Omnicom Group’s OMD East.

“I like the idea of doing something new, moving around and facing new challenges,” said Botway, 45, explaining her decision to leave Interpublic Group’s Initiative Media North America, where she was evp and director of marketing. “The sense of strategic thinking and avoiding the traditional approach to media is something that appeals to me. And the job has multiple roles, which appeals to me greatly.”

Botway, who reports to OMD North America CEO Page Thompson, will manage media planning for the shop’s Eastern hub, as well as its specialty units, including print. Client services, Botway’s strong suit at Initiative, will be among her duties, Thompson said.

“She’s a real jewel, a unique media person,” said Thompson. “She has a legal background, she’s run a business, she has a sociologist’s understanding of people and a common-sense approach to media.”

Botway has made her mark in the 13 years she has been in advertising. In 1990, after several years running her own law firm, she joined her father’s ad agency, The Botway Group, as legal counsel, rising to CEO in 1996. In 2000, the $700 million shop, whose flagship client was Unilever, was sold to Initiative while the latter was competing for Unilever’s consolidated media business. (Terms of that deal were not disclosed.)

“She’s a strong leader, very driven, but I think her greatest strength is that she really understands the concept of client service,” said Liz Marks, svp and director of business development at Havas’ Media Planning Group, who worked with Botway at Initiative.