Carat Welcomes New-Business Maven O’Connor

Looking to keep its solid momentum going, Carat has hired John O’Connor, one of Southern California’s top veteran new-business media executives.

Before joining the nation’s largest unaffiliated media agency, O’Connor was most recently a partner in PWA Media here.

“John has a long and very successful track record. He fits in very well with our culture,” said John Barnes, evp/managing director of Carat’s $750 million L.A. office.

Carat’s fortunes in the West have sizzled in 2001. The shop added the coveted $150 million New Line movie studio account last month, and has also picked up more than $10 million in smaller accounts since January, including fitness chain Gold’s Gym, Strat osphere Casino Hotel & Tower in Las Vegas and retail chain 3 Day Blinds.

O’Connor and Carat have courted for more than a year. They first talked in 1999, but O’Connor then decided to partner with another local media veteran, Pam Warren, in launching a small specialist agency, PWA Media.

Eventually, however, O’Connor decided that Carat “gives me the opportunity to do what I’ve always enjoyed doing, but at a much higher level. I didn’t expect to be able to maintain that entrepreneurial feel, but you can here. Not only do they allow it, they promote it.”

In the ’90s, O’Connor and then-partner Tim Hahnke were among the most prolific new-business generators in the West. They ran the L.A. office of New York-based TBS Media Management and later, from San Diego, the new-business efforts of Cincinnati-based Media That Works (now Empower MediaMarketing). Among the many accounts they brought in were Janus Mutual Funds, the Broadway Stores, 1-800 Contacts, Pleasant Hawaiian Holidays, Honeywell Consumer Products and Hollywood Video.

When the pair left TBS in 1996, they shopped their services as a team and were courted by 20 different media agencies.