Media All-Stars 2010



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

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