Media All-StarsA dozen of the most talented, innovative media point people for leading brands
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Doug Ray, President, Carat North America
As North American president of Carat, Doug Ray represents a rare blend of motivational coach, active listener and sharp thinker.
Those qualities helped spur the media shop’s extraordinary new business run this year, with big wins like General Motors, Macy’s, Gillette Venus and GoPro fueling regional revenue growth of 25 percent. For his achievements, Ray was selected as Adweek’s Media All-Star Executive of the Year.
Carat North America will end 2012 with more than $120 million in revenue, up from about $96 million at the end of 2011, per Adweek estimates. North America is now the agency’s second largest region by revenue after Europe and home to its biggest account, GM, with an annual global media spend of $3 billion.
Without question, the European-born Carat has flourished in North America under Ray, an eight-year veteran of the shop who assumed his current role in July 2011.
That said, advertising is a team sport. Although Ray is a key leader who oversees 1,000 staffers in 10 offices, he’s ultimately just one man in a network that wins or loses as a group. He attributes Carat’s success in part to colleagues such as HR director Tecla Palli-Sandler, who has helped recruit a new breed of talent. One example: Mike Vitti, svp of data and analytics, who worked for the PGA Tour before joining Carat in March. Today, he’s Ray’s “Moneyball guy,” in charge of interpreting big data.
“If we want to challenge the status quo, if we really want to redefine media, we won’t be able to do that by hiring inside the industry,” explains Ray. “I want to be the most modern media agency.”
Ray is incentivized to collaborate, be it within the Aegis Group agency, with sister shops or with marketers. On that score, one marketing leader gives him high marks. “Doug is someone I can pick up the phone and call at any time, and it’s because he works hard to build genuine friendships and collaborates well with clients,” says Suzanne Watson, former svp of marketing at GoPro, who also worked with Ray in her 12 years at Procter & Gamble, another top Carat client. “He builds great teams.”
That’s an apt description of a former springboard diver and coach who cites college coach Randy Ableman as a mentor who defined success as “allowing people to believe they can do something that they don’t believe they can do.”
Another influence: Ray’s first boss, Mike Lotito at Ammirati & Puris, who taught him to think broadly like a marketer, not just a media exec.
Lotito’s lesson has certainly sunk in, at least in the eyes of Tony Giannini, svp of media strategy and marketing effectiveness at Macy’s. “He is focused on the big picture but also understands the details,” says Giannini, who describes Ray as “driven by innovation and intuitive.”
Winning qualities indeed. —Andrew McMains