Speciale Takes Star Role at MediaVest

After 15 years at MediaCom, with the last two as evp, director of national and local broadcast, Donna Speciale will step out from under global buying officer Jon Mandel’s higher profile when she moves to MediaVest next month.

MediaCom, Grey Global Group’s media arm, is so identified with Mandel that “the only way Donna could really establish herself in her own right was to go somewhere else,” said one source, adding that in her new role, Speciale stands to “build on” her name.

Speciale, 41, will replace Mel Berning as president of U.S. broadcast at MediaVest in New York. Berning will take a top sales post at A&E in January.

“Donna has an impressive track record of driving innovation and positive changes to the broadcast arena,” said MediaVest CEO Laura Desmond, Speciale’s new boss. “[She is] the ideal candidate for this post.”

Speciale, a self-described “media brat,” has bloodlines in the discipline. Her father Mike was a media buyer who left MediaCom two years ago to live in semi-retirement in Las Vegas.

“Since I was a kid, I was involved in media and played softball with buyers, and it seemed like a natural thing to do,” said Speciale, a native New Yorker who interned as a media buyer at Leonard Monahan Saabye while attending Bryant College in Providence, R.I.

Speciale denied that her new role provides her with a chance to get out from under Mandel’s shadow. “I just wanted a change,” she said.

Speciale’s hire last week capped a whirlwind fortnight for the Publicis Groupe network, the victor in the $300 million-plus Coca-Cola media consolidation two weeks ago. MediaVest’s longtime president of world- wide programming, Jeff Grant, said he will leave by month’s end to open a consultancy called Totem. Brian Terkelsen, svp, director of entertainment marketing, will assume Grant’s duties.