Salvatore Mixed Rigor and Style

To sellers, Donna Salvatore was a poker player so skilled, she was impossible to read. To fellow buyers, she was a world-class deal maker. To colleagues, she was a soldier who also knew when to lighten the mood with a joke or prank.

Salvatore, chief investment officer at MediaVest in New York, died June 20 of a brain aneurysm. She was 50. Salvatore was remembered last week as a pioneering buyer who mixed warmth, intellectual rigor and style in crafting unique media deals and long-lasting client relationships. Her career spanned a quarter-century, most of it at Benton & Bowles’ famed media department and its descendants, D’Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles, TeleVest and MediaVest.

“I feel privileged to have known and worked with Donna,” said Don Miceli, vp for media services at Kraft Foods, a longtime client of Salvatore’s. “She was bright, street-smart and dogged in her determination, while at the same time fun-loving and caring.”

Perhaps the best example of Salvatore’s deal-making savvy was her negotiation of MediaVest’s groundbreaking cross-platform deal between Viacom and client Procter & Gamble in 2001, estimated at $300 million.

“Donna was a consummate media professional,” said Rino Scanzoni, president of the broadcast division at WPP’s Mediaedge:cia, who worked with Salvatore for 19 years. “She did her homework.

Said John Nesvig, president of Fox Broadcasting and Sales, who had known Salvatore almost her whole career: “She had a wonderful combination of steel and warmth.”

Another longtime colleague, Irwin Gotlieb, CEO of WPP’s Group M, remembered Salvatore as “incredibly persistent. She didn’t take no for an answer. And she stood up for herself no matter what.”