Dene Callas, who made her mark in the agency world at Grey and MediaCom (now units of WPP Group), is rejoining the indie ranks. Media Storm, the midsize, fast-growing New York shop, has appointed Callas to its senior management team as managing director in charge of operations and development.
Callas spent most of her career at MediaCom and Grey Media, the Grey Advertising unit from which MediaCom was spun off in 1997. She started at then-independent Grey (acquired by WPP in 2005) in the late 1970s.
During her tenure at MediaCom, where she was U.S. CEO from 2005-07 and co-CEO before that, the shop won a number of prestige accounts, including GlaxoSmithKline, Volkswagen, LVMH and Hasbro. After stepping down in mid-2007, she took on a newly created corporate role at WPP media management arm GroupM. Among other duties, she oversaw the Miramax account assigned to GroupM agency Maxus. She left in 2009 and had been a consultant prior to joining Media Storm.
It was when Callas handled Miramax that she first got to know Media Storm co-founders Craig Woerz and Tim Williams. “We worked together on the account,” said Woerz, noting that Media Storm handled the digital piece. “She believes in doing things differently and in ways that provide added value for clients.”
As a seasoned media agency pro, he said, Callas will help the agency—which has doubled its staff in the last two years to 115 people—maintain “structural best practices,” and expand both its offering and client base. “What I love about her is that, like us, she gets her hands dirty versus an executive that sits on high,” Woerz said.
In the past year, she’s done several projects for the agency as a consultant, said Woerz. With her Rolodex and knowledge of the agency, she’ll be a huge asset in the hunt for new business, he added.
With offices in New York and Norwalk, Conn., Media Storm has boosted billings by 150 percent over the past two years to an estimated $500 million. (The agency won’t confirm numbers.)
During that time the shop has added work from Cisco Systems, Disney, CMT and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. The shop focuses on entertainment clients and others that “want to make their brands more entertaining,” said Woerz.
The agency, marking its 10th anniversary this year, also offers clients creative services through its boutique subsidiary Maude, which opened its doors in 2008. A year later it created Bolt, a unit that specializes in interactive ads.
Separately, the shop said it has promoted Tina Tison to managing director from director of strategic planning.