Maybe it’s just we who are feeling older, but has anyone else noticed how suddenly peach-faced the media industry looks? No accident, that. With most every advertiser and brand marketer clamoring for their nanosecond of fame in the new media universe, it’s pretty clear that agencies have turned to the next generation to help unlock that elusive door to digital stardom. Enter the digital nativists—youngsters who grew up with a mouse instead of a rattle. Would you be surprised to know that this is the youngest class of Media All-Star winners that AdweekMedia has ever honored? You shouldn’t be.
Consider that two of this year’s honorees aren’t out of their 20s. Beth Doyle, our Rising Star at 28, spearheads VivaKi’s The Pool project, charged with creating the next generation of ad plays on emerging media. Starcom’s Karen Umeki (one year her junior) is working with magazines like Rolling Stone on experimental ad placements that offer more cut-through value than static pages.
Other All Stars are creaking along in their early and (gasp) even mid-30s. Razorfish’s Paul Gelb, 30, was actually nominated as a Rising Star, but his creative drive in creating a mobile practice for his agency demonstrated a wisdom beyond his years (especially because mobile, rumored to be on the verge of exploding for years now, finally seems to be doing just that). As one colleague put it, Gelb “was doing mobile before mobile was cool.” Even Mindshare’s Phil Cowdell, our exec of the year who’s snared $2 billion in new client business, is only 46.
But the central fact here is actually not the youth of the winners, but the youth of digital itself, which, as everyone knows, is fast rewriting the media-buying rule book. Keeping atop the changes doesn’t require a fresh face so much as a fresh approach—and the talent to generate innovation, recast agency culture and create breakout work. That’s what Targetcast tcm co-founders Steve Farella and Audrey Siegel have done by placing the digital team at the center of the company’s new offices. It’s why MagnaGlobal president Elizabeth Herbst-Brady has tapped new research and analysis methodologies. And it’s why Hill Holliday veteran Karen Agresti has expanded her view on local broadcast to include multiple new platforms.
Which is good news for everyone with a 4 or a 5 in front of his age. Media execs may be looking a lot younger, but adaptation and creativity are still—and always will be—what you need to succeed.
MEDIA ALL STARS 2010:
EXECUTIVE OF THE YEAR:
CEO, NORTH AMERICA
By Steve McClellan
A hugely popular YouTube video from last year showed a shirtless guy dancing alone on a hillside to Santogold’s “Unstoppable” at the Sasquatch Music Festival. He’s alone at first, but before long, two more revelers join him. In minutes, scores and then hundreds of people are bouncing and flailing around him in a spontaneous dance party.
What’s this video got to do with Phil Cowdell? Nothing—except that he says he felt like that lone dancer when WPP’s Mindshare promoted him to CEO, North America last May. And he suspected that, much like the crowd at the music festival, the rank and file was quietly snickering at him at first. As Cowdell puts it: “I’m mad, English, don’t know what I’m talking about, nothing will change and I’ll be gone by Christmas.”
Fortunately for Cowdell, things turned out much the way they did for the dancing man. His vindication: “When the first of the those who needed to be convinced came over” to his way of thinking, realizing that the agency needed changes. “That was the moment,” he says, “that visceral, emotional ‘Wow,’ because you can’t do it on your own. You’ve got to bring an enterprise with you.”
Today, weeks from his second Christmas on the job, Cowdell and his enterprise are thriving. Since he signed on as North American CEO, the agency has snared nearly $2 billion in new business and successfully defended one of the shop’s key U.S. accounts—Unilever, which drops $700 million annually on ads, per Nielsen data.
Among the big U.S. wins: Boehringer ($250 million); Abbott ($230 million) and Radio Shack ($140 million). The shop also bagged Unilever’s $200 million Canadian account, along with Mazda ($20 million) and others.
All the new business will provide a sharp spike in Mindshare’s North American revenues this year, which are projected to climb 25 percent to $420 million, according to sources. The agency would not comment on its revenue outlook.
It’s a heady time for Mindshare, which was sorely in need of a culture shift when Cowdell took the helm. The shop was reeling from the loss of Bristol-Myers Squibb (worth $400 million) and key personnel defections. Those included Ernie Simon, the agency’s top planner, who jumped ship for OMD.
Looking back, even CEO Dominic Proctor concedes that Mindshare’s North American operation had lost its way: “The agency had become very introspective,” he says. “To some extent, [we’d also] lost the perspective that this is all about clients rather than ourselves.”
By the time he’d decided to install a new chief for the North American division in early 2009, Proctor had outlined a new mission for his exec: “to look at our whole business through the prism of our clients. Phil was an obvious choice because he’s spent his entire career as a client leader rather than as an agency manager.”
That difference—the hands-on experience in dealing with clients—is a key attribute in Cowdell’s management ethos. In his previous post, Cowdell was based in Chicago, where he worked directly with Kimberly-Clark and other large clients. Before that, working out of Detroit, he was the media leader on the agency’s Ford business.
Cowdell maintains that it’s crucial for agencies to understand, inside and out, the businesses of their clients. “We’re not trying to be McKinsey,” he says, “but we have to help our clients solve business issues, not just media issues. If we don’t understand what the need is and how it can be solved, how do we develop media plans that work?”
For example, when Cowdell worked with Sprint on the launch of its first 4G phone, he fashioned himself as much a marketing consultant as a media buyer.
Steve Gaffney, Sprint’s vp of corporate marketing, recalls hearing from Cowdell just after the rollout. “There was an e-mail from Phil in my inbox, offering his point of view about his user experience and asking who he might talk to about his observations about the phone and ways he wanted to make it work harder for him,” Gaffney says. “I don’t know that I’ve ever met anybody with the energy for his clients’ business that Phil has. I’m sure other clients would say the same thing, which is a testament to his ability to spread himself around and the depth of capability to reach into our businesses and understand who we are and how we work.”
Cowdell does indeed spread himself around—in the form of 16-hour days and 90-hour weeks. Which is to say: Success has come with a price. Cowdell, who is 46, has worn a pacemaker since 2006. He also walked around for years with two ulcers that went undetected because, “I didn’t have time to deal with it.” Little wonder he likens his business to a “contact sport.”
Still, Cowdell somehow finds time for pleasure reading, and waxes philosophically over the pages of a Nelson Mandela biography. “Smile,” he says, “Nobody is an enemy, just an opportunity to be a friend.” No doubt, looking ahead, Cowdell will continue to find friends and opportunities alike.
Phil Cowdell photographed by Greg Kessler
SVP, MANAGING DIRECTOR
By Janet Stilson
There’s nothing like a snowstorm to get one dreaming about the tropics. But when the dreamers are Lauren Barbara and her team at Chrysalis, the result was a media blitz that left Carnival Cruise Lines feeling exceptionally sunny.
With an assist from creative agency Arnold, Chrysalis timed a series of Carnival messages on place-based media and digital bulletins in Chicago to coincide with a storm. When Carnival saw its bookings climb in the Windy City,
Chrysalis was ready to answer its request to expand the campaign in five mid-Atlantic markets—and with only 24 hours notice.
On-the-spot thinking like that has helped Barbara, 37, make waves at MPG, which promoted her to svp and managing director of Chrysalis this past January. (It’s also no small part of why Barbara joins our 2010 All-Star roster.) On her watch, the agency’s out-of-home unit has watched its billings grow by 80 percent since its inception in 2008.
But according to Maria Luisa Francoli, MPG’s CEO, Barbara’s value goes well beyond out-of-home. “Lauren has the ability to integrate with the rest of the planning team and to brainstorm and contribute to whatever plan we’re trying to develop—way beyond her medium,” Francoli says, adding that Barbara sports a “big-picture understanding of the client problem and not just the specificity of the medium she’s trying to sell.”
Despite that breadth of understanding, OOH is clearly Barbara’s home turf. Her goal, she says, is to develop the OOH medium by “using all the technology and innovations that are available to us, delivering different messaging that hits people through the day.”
And hit people it has. High points of Barbara’s career include introducing frappés and smoothies at McDonald’s McCafés in the Northeast and launching Kmart’s Protege sneaker line—work recognized with a gold Reggie in 2009. She’s promoted celebrations with Moet, Belvedere and Hennessy, and drawn crowds to Sephora’s new stores. Yet despite this range of work, Barbara speaks more of her role in mentoring others.
“Her staff is very loyal to her,” observes Connie Garrido, CEO of Posterscope. “She does everything in her power to make sure [her staffers] have the skill sets they need to succeed.” And Garrido is in a position to know. She’s hired Barbara repeatedly over the last 11 years as the media buyer has moved from Ogilvy & Mather to Mindshare’s Wow Factory, to Kinetic and then on to Chrysalis. Barbara stepped up to lead Chrysalis when Garrido moved from there to head Aegis Media’s Posterscope OOH division.
“Lauren is one of those people who inspires confidence in terms of getting things done,” Garrido adds. “She’s always stepped up to any challenge that I’ve given her, and she always does it with a smile on her face.”
Smiles have been in short supply during the recent economic downturn, and Barbara’s positive outlook has left lasting impressions on clients like Lou Formisano, svp and national sales manager at CBS Outdoor. “Her demeanor is always friendly, and she’s always looking for a solution,” he says.
Meanwhile, back at the Carnival account, Barbara says she’s looking for more of those. Better check that weather forecast.
Lauren Barbara photographed by Greg Kessler
VP, DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL TV
By John Consoli
By his own admission, David Campanelli owes at least some of his success to blissful naivety. When he joined Horizon Media’s TV group as a junior buyer in 1998, pretty much fresh out of college, “[I] didn’t know what media buying was,” Campanelli says. “I didn’t know what I was getting myself into.”
Fortunately for both agency and junior buyer, what Campanelli, 35, ended up getting himself into was a chance to develop both creativity and problem solving. When he started, Campanelli joined a four-person department with billings of a few hundred thousand dollars. Now, 12 years later, as vp, director of national TV, Campanelli oversees over $1 billion in billings, and has 23 people answering to him.
In an industry where buyers are known for their casual agency hops, Horizon’s benefited from Campanelli’s tenure. He’s handled the Geico account, for example, since his early days, and Horizon evp, chief media negotiating officer Aaron Cohen lauds him for helping to develop the insurance giant into the sixth-largest sports advertising spender. Campanelli, Cohen says, is “the strategic leader in Geico’s sports marketplace emergence.” And he’s not kidding. It was Campanelli who helped land Geico’s caveman spokesperson in Super Bowl pre-game programming, in which the famed Neanderthal chatted with former NFL great Phil Simms.
Sports is obviously more than just a media-buying game for Campanelli, who recently created a specialty unit called Sports@Horizon to handle the sports-related buying, including deals with leagues and teams. Campanelli did this while holding down his myriad other responsibilities, which include overseeing all broadcast buying and managing all the purchasing for cable TV, syndication and kids.
Along the way, Campanelli’s managed to bring many new national TV accounts into Horizon’s end zone, including Crown Imports (Corona), Dish Network and Weight Watchers. Campanelli could be forgiven for some ego, though Cohen says he “sets the tone of quiet confidence and honesty” for the department.
That might be why Horizon also enjoys an uncommon retention rate among its clients, big and small. “Once we get them, they just don’t leave,” Campanelli says of big players like A&E and NBC, along with lesser known names like David’s Bridal. These companies have logged a decade or longer with Horizon. Why? “We don’t lump all the money together and then disperse the time,” Campanelli says. “We negotiate for each client separately.”
Those negotiations have produced their share of coups. In addition to the caveman cameo, Campanelli placed Google’s first Super Bowl spot as part of the company’s strategy to remind mass audiences of the capabilities of Google’s search platform.
Though today Campanelli’s supervisory role is a far cry from his junior-exec days out of college, he’s remained individually connected to Horizon’s clients. Which is probably why Cohen says he’s more critical than ever. “I have the confidence in him,” he says, “to give him a pretty loose rein on how he operates.”
David Campanelli photographed by Greg Kessler
By Lucia Moses
As the daughter of an engineer dad and arty mom, Karen Umeki grew up steeped in both numbers and creativity—gifts parlayed into a fast-rising media career.
Umeki, 27, cut her teeth out of college at a boutique firm in L.A., Round 2 Communications, where she did planning and buying for Ketel One Vodka and Crystal Cruises. Starcom took note, and in 2007, she returned to her hometown of Chicago to join Brenda White’s publishing activation team. She’s moved fast ever since. At a time when buying still tended to be efficiency driven, Umeki saw the importance of starting with the client’s goal—a process that she applied to client Kashi and which became a template that White’s team would adopt. “She always thought about things a little bit differently,” says White, Starcom USA’s svp, publishing activation director. “When I was talking about print as a brand, she was one of the first to catch on to that.”
Umeki would soon add high-profile responsibilities as she took on print strategy for Wrigley’s Orbit. The chewing gum brand was part of key new business Starcom had recently won, and a particularly challenging one, says Robyn Stellmach, associate media director and Umeki’s current boss. “We knew whatever we did had to be new and never-been-done before,” she says.
Orbit was trying to get customers to think about its product as an accessory with a new package that, when torn off, would reveal different patterns underneath. Working with Rolling Stone, Umeki helped come up with a peel-off ad on the title’s cover that would reveal the new packaging on the peel’s flip side.
“The rationale was, what is the experience the consumer will go through when they open the pack, and how can we mimic the experience?” Umeki says.
The peel was risky. Orbit had no idea what cover image its ad would appear opposite. Rolling Stone, for its part, couldn’t appear as if it were selling out its iconic real estate to an advertiser.
To Orbit’s pleasant surprise, Rolling Stone ended up using the peel for a reveal of its own: the top of the peel showed a scowling Jay-Z, but when readers pulled it back, they saw a rare shot of the artist smiling.
“What we loved was the way the dual covers mirrored the way the gum packaging worked,” says Melinda Lewis, then senior marketing manager for Orbit, who adds that Umeki’s execution didn’t just boost awareness; customers genuinely enjoyed it.
The peel effort was a months-long process that involved Umeki doing lots of cajoling, convincing and coordinating between all the parties—a thing Umeki says she can do because of a special affinity for magazines.
“It’s the fact that it’s tangible and it’s something you can pick up and hold,” she says. “They’re one of your friends. If you start to feel your trusted friend selling out to advertisers, it doesn’t have the reliability and cachet that is most important to the space.”
Karen Umeki photographed by Rudy Archuleta
SVP, DIRECTOR OF INNOVATIONS
By Dan Ouellette
A self-professed pop culture addict, Dave Rosner has transformed Initiative U.S.’s Innovations unit since taking its helm in January. As svp, director, he has not only fostered a forward-looking view of how to creatively get consumers excited, but he’s also fully integrated his bicoastal team in New York and Los Angeles.
“We’re on the cultural cutting edge,” Rosner says of his division. “One day [we could be working on] original content, or tweets or geolocation or content strategy. Our goal is to break through doors to give our clients an advantage.”
That philosophy informed the prelaunch of Lionsgate macho-Stallone action film The Expendables this past summer with a geotargeting event via Foursquare. It also resulted in a viral Carl’s Jr. campaign consisting of YouTube star content creators’ humorous videos about the Portobello Mushroom Burger.
Formed in 2005 to develop ways to maximize traditional and emerging media marketing, the Innovations unit was largely operating as a silo within the agency. When Rosner—formerly in charge of Initiative’s East Coast innovations team after starting in the L.A. office in 2006—was promoted, he had the people in his group operate hand in hand with the rest of the agency, as well as with marketers.
Rosner says that everyone on his team—five people in New York, four in L.A.—brings to the table their own expertise. “We’re heavy TV watchers and radio listeners, we go to new music festivals to check out bands, we read, walk through stores, check out all kinds of culture from art to new technology,” says Rosner. “We’re a group of people with different passion points who come together and brainstorm with specific clients in mind.”
In New York, the Innovations division sits closely together in what one worker calls the “bullpen.” “Dave has created a council of experts and has the gift to get the most out of us working together,” says Kenton Langstroth, one of Rosner’s first hires.” Plus, he takes complex technology and breaks it down so that clients can understand.”
Rosner reports to Shane Ankeney, evp, managing director of Initiative U.S. “From a marketing point of view, he brings a fresh and broader perspective,” says Ankeney. “He’s been prolific in coming up with marketing solutions for clients.”
Rosner’s work has been lauded outside Initiative. He serves on the board of Interpublic Group’s Media Lab, which is charged with finding new ways to apply communications technology to drive client business.
“He’s a person who is actually deploying solutions,” says Brian Monahan, the Media Lab’s evp, managing partner. A lot of people talk about what to do in the market, but what he’s done with his team is unparalleled.”
Dave Rosner photographed by Greg Kessler
SVP, LOCAL BROADCAST
By Katy Bachman
Not many media execs have stayed with the same shop for 27 years. Nor can many boast of multiple clients staying with the same firm for decades or more. And only a select few have earned two Media All-Star honors during their career. For the past 17 years, Karen Agresti has served as svp of local broadcast for Boston-based Hill Holliday and has once again won All-Star honors for her local broadcast work.
Managing a team of 25 buyers in four offices, she and her group, which has been with Hill Holliday (and specifically with Agresti) for years, have won four Mediaweek Plan of the Year Awards for best use of local TV and radio.
Though Agresti loves, and has earned the right, to lounge on the beach at her place on Cape Cod or to play golf, she has no desire to call it quits.
“If you like what you do and who you work with, there’s no reason to leave. I found my niche,” says Agresti, often the first to arrive at work.
Agresti has been placing campaigns for Dunkin’ Donuts for 12 years, the Massachusetts State Lottery for 17, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care for 18, and TJX Corp.’s T.J. Maxx, Marshalls and HomeGoods for 14. New clients at the company, which has estimated local broadcast billings of between $200 million and $300 million dollars, include Safeco Insurance. The agency declined to provide specific figures.
Agresti “is a big part of why our business is still with Hill Holliday,” says Karen Coppola, svp and director of marketing for TJX Corp. “We spend an enormous amount of money in spot and she keeps us current and fresh.”
For instance, to reach teen girls, a back-to-school campaign last fall for Marshalls combined traditional radio spots in 21 markets with interns in four markets serving as “fashion ambassadors” who talked about their purchases across multiple platforms. The campaign won this year’s Media Plan of the Year for radio, less than $1 million from Mediaweek. “I’m such a fan of local,” Agresti says. “National is great because it’s efficient and it’s sexy, but at the end of the day, when you want to be relevant to consumers in Boston or Los Angeles, you have to capitalize on what makes markets unique.”
Agresti’s “work style is tireless,” says Cindy Stockwell, group media director for Hill Holliday. “She’s both a tough negotiator and an innovator. She buys for her clients as if the brands were her own.”
Known for customizing campaigns across markets, Agresti’s strategies range from coordinating DJ endorsements in radio to finding creative ways to integrate messages into local TV content. While most media buyers would go out of their way to avoid the logistical headaches of figuring out different executions in each market and for each local outlet, Agresti relishes the challenge.
As part of Dunkin’s current “America runs on Dunkin'” campaign, Agresti negotiated individual deals with TV stations in 104 markets, tying the Dunkin’ brand to local content (including placing Dunkin’ mugs on news sets) and sponsoring traffic reports in the early morning, when the brand does 70 percent of its business.
“In this day and age, to be able to make all our [franchises] feel like they’re getting a customized plan is a real challenge,” says Nick Dunham, brand manager, media for Dunkin’ Donuts. “She is the local market broadcast authority in the business.”
Karen Agresti photographed by Matt Teuten
DIRECTOR, MOBILE PRACTICE LEAD
By Mike Shields
During the summer of 2007, Paul Gelb was settling into a promising internship with Razorfish’s strategic planning group when the agency needed him elsewhere. A mobile project had been left high and dry when someone from the emerging media group went on vacation, and Razorfish, in a move many agencies would have made three years ago with mobile work, dumped it on the young intern.
Inspired by the medium’s vast possibilities, Gelb dove in headfirst. “When she came back, they were having me present to clients,” he recalls.
Gelb moved his internship over to emerging media, and fast became one of Razorfish’s go-to mobile experts. The company was so impressed with his skills they had him accelerate his MBA program so they could get on with hiring him full time.
Gelb, 30, officially joined Razorfish in 2008. He is now the agency’s director, mobile practice lead, overseeing 30 staffers. His meteoric rise, his success in guiding clients into the segment and his ability to serve as an internal and external evangelist for the mobile medium have earned him the designation of Mediaweek Media All-Star.
“Paul is a great bridge builder,” says Pete Stein, president, East region, Razorfish. “He makes our teams even better.”
Gelb says his early push into mobile meant that initially “the spending … was miniscule. I had to be creative, technology, strategic planning, media planning.” But the company, he adds, has “a culture of empowering people and providing resources. Whatever we needed … we got. [We] had to win [clients].”
Of course, with marketers now ramping up their mobile budgets, the medium’s profile has been significantly enhanced. “With [Apple’s] iAD, what’s happened is we’ve gotten in front of CMOs and creative directors, high-level people,” says Gelb. “Think $1 million to $10 million in spending instead of $250,000 tests.”
Some of Gelb’s successes include a rich media ad campaign for Victoria’s Secret that allowed users to create holiday wish lists within a mobile ad, which they could share with friends. They could also use the wish lists for in-store shopping.
“He’s really good at breaking down something for clients that can be very complex,” says Marcus Startzel, svp, sales for the mobile ad network Millennial Media. “Paul has become a real thought leader. He was doing mobile before mobile was cool.”
Gelb is also credited with reducing Razorfish’s app development time by 80 percent. His team even built out a new app for a packaged-goods client, Axe, in just four days.
For Gelb, that sort of dedication isn’t just about pleasing clients, but about further establishing a medium. “With every step we are building a case for mobile,” he says.
Paul Gelb photographed by Greg Kessler
EVP, BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR
By John Consoli
Greg Kahn is not your conventional media research executive.
Few research execs, for instance, are the lead presenters when media agencies pitch new business, like Kahn was last fall when he helped bring in BBC America as a new client. (He now oversees all of BBC America’s TV, film, home video and digital planning in the U.S.) In the past six months, Kahn has also helped the agency land Orbitz and homeopathic product manufacturer Boiron. Other clients benefiting from his expertise include T-Mobile, L’Oréal and Denny’s.
“Greg is someone who’s brought completely fresh ideas to the research role at Optimedia,” says Optimedia’s U.S. CEO, Antony Young, who hired Kahn in ’07 as svp, director of strategic insights. “And his group has made a lot of contributions outside of just research.”
Prior to being promoted to evp, business development director earlier this year, Kahn had several noteworthy accomplishments at the company. In 2008, he introduced Content Power Ratings, which measures and ranks the total audience size and influence of TV programs across all platforms, and which added media-driven buzz to the equation. It was meant to be an internal metric, Kahn says, “but it was picked up by the marketplace.”
Kahn also created Outlookers, a trendspotting partnership with the marketing programs of 10 colleges nationwide, for which students, working with Optimedia, gather information and pass it on to the agency’s clients.
And this past summer, Kahn spearheaded the development and execution of Optimedia’s first off-site (three-day) digital forum, attended by close to 20 clients. Workshops were led by execs from companies including Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, Twitter, Electus, Hulu, Yahoo and AOL.
“Greg touches a lot of different platforms ,” Young says. “He has a strong sense of the media and the entertainment business.”
Kahn, 37, says he’s always interested in research. His first job, in high school, was interning at Opinion Research Corp. He went on to work at places including Global Film School, a virtual film university, and then co-founded and served as president of FilmBUZZ, a market research company for filmmakers. Prior to joining Optimedia, Kahn was at Showtime and then PHD as vp, research and strategy.
“The common thread through it all was to use analytics to help entertainment companies market their products,” Kahn says.
Despite his research background, Kahn considers himself more of a “business practices expert, a role much greater than just research.”
“He understands how insights can drive our clients business and he helps tie those insights together with our planning and buying,” says Young. “He’s playing a pretty important role in helping drive new business into the agency.”
Greg Kahn photographed by Greg Kessler
By Anthony Crupi
Here’s one way to illustrate the breadth of Elizabeth Herbst-Brady’s travels over the last two years. Get a desktop globe, give it a spin and put your finger on its surface. Unless you alight on an ocean, you’ve probably landed somewhere visited by the president of MagnaGlobal.
On this particular day, Herbst-Brady is packing for Budapest. In the recent past she’s also been to Shanghai, Frankfurt, Dubai, Copenhagen and Milan.
The barnstorming tour began in earnest shortly after Herbst-Brady joined the firm in October 2008. Under her guidance, Magna has embraced a certain fluid globalism, transitioning, quickly, from an upfront-focused national TV unit to a worldwide investment group that places a premium on research and analysis, assessing 70 overseas markets (all new to the company).
She also kicked down some of the walls quarantining the Mediabrands member agencies,
a collective that includes Initiative and UM.
“It’s about using the center to help work with the agencies on behalf of their clients,” Herbst-Brady says. “Everything we do forwards that premise.”
MagnaGlobal has also been busy stateside, expanding into local TV, national radio, print and digital. It also chucked creaky forecasting—making projections against client and agency ad spend estimates—in exchange for a new model based on revenues derived by media suppliers.
The primacy of research in the new MagnaGlobal initiative has won over a number of media partners. “It’s an intricate part of our business to have the right information for making media buying decisions, and this is an area in which Elizabeth excels,” says Joe Abruzzese, president, advertising sales at Discovery Communications.
From an activation perspective, enabling greater communication between the likes of UM and Initiative has been a boon to many network partners.
“It’s definitely a lot less territorial,” says one senior media executive. “Before Elizabeth came along, you’d have situations where competitive categories were on the table and you couldn’t get anything going with either agency. It was a quagmire.”
Geri Wang, president of sales and marketing, ABC Television Network, has negotiated with Herbst-Brady since the early half of the last decade, back when she was steering Starcom’s national broadcast investments. Herbst-Brady, she says, “is smart, does her homework and has a great sense of the macro-economic marketplace. She’s also been successful in pulling together the MagnaGlobal agencies in a very collaborative way.”
As Herbst-Brady prepares for her next trans-Atlantic voyage, she says her travels have reinforced the notion that the global marketplace—in which MagnaGlobal does some $29 billion in business—is an ever-evolving conversation.
“Despite the occasional language barriers, you begin to see certain universal themes emerge,” she says. “No matter where you are, everyone has issues with data, and everyone wants to capitalize on markets in real time.”
Elizabeth Herbst-Brady photographed by Greg Kessler
STEVE FARELLA – CHAIRMAN, CEO, CO-FOUNDER
AUDREY SIEGEL – PRESIDENT, CO-FOUNDER
By Noreen O’Leary
Last year, TargetCast tcm moved into the same midtown Manhattan space where company co-founder, chairman and CEO Steve Farella started his own media career at Benton & Bowles 33 years earlier. But the switch to a new—and larger—office did more than bring him full circle. It underscored the success that he and co-founder and president Audrey Siegel have enjoyed since opening the shop in 2002.
What began with just the two principals and no clients has grown to 85 employees and close to $500 million in media planning and spending for marketers including New York Life, Pfizer Consumer Healthcare, TIAA-CREF, Expedia and AMC.
Even more impressive: 2009 was TargetCast tcm’s best year ever. Despite miserable industry conditions, the company increased its top line 20 percent, according to Farella.
The two credit their track record to staking out a distinctive market position. They started TargetCast tcm, they explain, after the wave of holding-company acquisitions in the ’90s left few independent media-buying alternatives to clients who felt unappreciated in mega shops.
“This was an agency started to serve strong, independent brands that weren’t getting the attention they deserved at our larger competitors,” Farella says.
The agency, which works with comparatively smaller media budgets, is known for its ingenuity, just as its founders are known for their loyalty. In fact, TargetCast tcm, they say, has yet to lose a single client.
“One of the things that most impressed me, and continues to, is the senior-level focus on our business,” says Jamie DePeau, svp, marketing at TIAA-CREF, a founding client that left a big agency for the then upstart. “You’re not just relegated to junior account people who have worked in media for one year.”
It seems even new clients become quick fans. When Paul Leonard joined as vp, brand marketing at Expedia last year, he changed the company’s creative and PR partners, but stuck with TargetCast tcm.
“They’re superb collaborators—tenacious, responsible and bring a high level of experience,” says Leonard. “They’re very strong stewards who look at our business as if it was their own.”
Farella and Siegel met when Farella ran the Procter & Gamble media business at Benton & Bowles and Siegel had the same role at Saatchi, where she had spent much of her career.
Farella successively headed up media operations at Ammirati & Puris, Wells Rich Greene, Young & Rubicam and DMB&B before leading integrated services at Jordan McGrath Case & Partners. He hired Siegel on P&G at Jordan McGrath and she eventually ran the media department. After Havas asked Farella to create Media Planning Group to house the holding company’s media operations, he enlisted Siegel once again.
They share a commitment to partnerships and to growing the company hand in hand with new technologies. TargetCast tcm, for one, partners with a range of creative agencies.
“They have a deep understanding of each brand they work with,” says the Burns Group’s Mike Burns, “and give you fresh creative perspective. You won’t get boilerplate generic media.”
In January, TargetCast tcm expanded its digital resources by acquiring Triumph360. To emphasize its importance, Farella and Siegel placed their digital team in the center of the company’s new offices, underscoring the dynamism of media.
“I love this business,” Siegel says. “It’s ever evolving.”
Steve Farella and Audrey Siegel photographed by Greg Kessler
EAST COAST DIRECTOR
OMD’s IGNITION FACTORY
By Robert Klara
Paul Leys occupies a strange place. No, not just New York—though trading in the highway commute for a walk to the office still feels peculiar to this L.A. transplant, who now runs the Manhattan offices of OMD’s Ignition Factory. But Leys’ realm is stranger still: that sweet spot where high tech overlaps with an actual advertising platform.
Put another way, every new crop of gadgetry is commercially useless until someone figures out how to coax ad revenue from it. Leys, 32, is such a someone.
“He’s working on the next generation of creativity in media,” says OMD CEO Alan Cohen. “And attracting a lot of attention.”
Most media shops, says Ignition director Jon Haber, have the approach backwards: “They see [new technology] and want to know how to put an ad in there.” By contrast, he says, Leys “understands people first, then the technology. He also has the marketing chops to connect it to what people are doing naturally.”
Last year, for example, people were gravitating to the Kindle e-reader. Leys, who was one of them, was also aware that the tablet prohibits ads. But when Showtime asked Leys to find a way to promote its new drama Nurse Jackie, Leys looked at the Kindle anyway, and turned the pilot episode’s script into a free Kindle download. And lo: Content became advertising, the show found new fans among the reading public-and the script surged into Amazon’s top 10 downloads in its first day.
For PepsiCo, Leys created the PepsiCo10, an evolving caucus that introduces the beverage giant to Leys’ handpicked group of the most-promising tech upstarts. “We see a lot of bright people telling us what we should be doing in the digital space,” says PepsiCo North America’s director of media strategy, Seth Kaufman. “But Paul crystallizes it. He finds a great platform and a way to make it work.”
In other cases, Leys and his team have fused technology with older media, like the time they interfaced Dockers’ “Men Without Pants” TV jingle with the Shazam app, cranking so many hits during this year’s Super Bowl that the mobile site crashed. Or in fall 2009, when Ignition bound “video chip” ads for CBS into Entertainment Weekly—literally sandwiching TV ads into a magazine. “We [try to] pop through the clutter and produce something useful and entertaining,” says Leys.
“The ideas Paul comes back with are distinctly different,” says GE global director, advertising and branding Judy Hu, who is working with Leys on translating GE’s environmental positioning into a short video. “He’s a great creative thinker.”
Leys might say great creative tinkerer instead. “We’ll pitch 50-100 ideas before we get one execution,” he admits. And little wonder why. “Creativity is the challenge,” Leys adds. “Everybody wants the next big idea.”
Paul Leys photographed by Greg Kessler
INNOVATIONS ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR
By T.L. Stanley
If she weren’t so disarming and down-to-earth, it would be easy to think of Beth Doyle as a shark, a creature known for being in perpetual motion.
A Midwesterner who globetrots on her down time and has a trove of hobbies, Doyle is also hard at work on finding new emerging media ad models—ones she’d like to see as industry standards.
And while Doyle’s been in the working world for half her life, at 28, she’s just getting started.
As associate director, innovations at VivaKi—the online ad research unit of Publicis Groupe—Doyle spearheads a project dubbed The Pool, the goal of which is to create and implement the equivalent of TV’s 30-second spot for emerging media.
The Pool has corralled some 60 companies (informally referred to as “partners”) to help with its research, including heavyweight publishers like YouTube and Hulu, content creators like NBC and CBS, and advertisers such as Procter & Gamble and Kraft Foods. It’s the first time the competitive behemoths have worked closely together. What’s more, the findings are being shared with the entire industry.
“We’re trying to accelerate the business [at large], and Beth manages all [our] moving parts,” says Tracey Scheppach, Doyle’s boss and VivaKi’s svp, innovations director. “She’s so passionate about the technical side, but she also has inherent people skills. She’s an absolute rock star.”
VivaKi recently launched ASq, an online ad model that came out of The Pool research. Viewers pick one of three ads and watch the chosen short video, versus watching a pre-set, pre-roll commercial. VivaKi believes the ad model could become an industry standard.
Scheppach says consumer recall is through the roof, with awareness 363 percent higher with ASq than with a pre-roll ad. So far, Pool partners including AOL, Yahoo, MSN, ABC, BlackBerry and Bank of America have used it.
Doyle, who started her career as a media planner six years ago at Starcom USA and has been with VivaKi since 2008, is a new media junkie. She says she thrives on being at the center of the industry’s evolution.
“It’s my job to be an advocate for change,” says Doyle. The Notre Dame alum, whose guitar lessons and volleyball coaching, among other pursuits, help balance days filled with addressable advertising and mobile video, adds, “At the heart of it all is understanding consumers and their changing media habits.”
Colleagues describe Doyle, who’s as comfortable installing a high-tech entertainment system as she is baking an apple pie, as a right-brain-left-brain thinker particularly well suited for her multi-tasking role.
“I’ve never seen anyone get on the right side of everyone like she does,”says Matt Timothy, president of Vindico, an ad insertion and tracking service that’s part of The Pool. “The physics of it are amazing.”
Beth Doyle photographed by Rudy Archuleta