Horizon Media general manager Zach Rosenberg developed a list of candidates to run planning for the West Coast operation from his own Rolodex. A call to onetime co-worker Barbara Thompson in January led to more serious discussions, and today Thompson starts at the Los Angeles shop as svp, media director.
She reports to Rosenberg, with whom she worked at J. Walter Thompson, Los Angeles, in the early '80s.
The senior planning post was created because of the shop's growth—it now has 65 staffers from about 45 a year ago, and its billings have grown to $300 million from $200 million in the last year. Thompson, 52, will oversee about 10 planners, with two or three to be added soon.
The department was previously led by planning director Becka Gill, who remains at the shop and now reports to Thompson.
Thompson joins the 14-year-old independent from Interpublic Group's Foote, Cone & Belding Southern California, Irvine, where she most recently was svp, media director, heading Mattel, Hilton Hotels, Kawasaki Motor Corp. and Taco Bell, among others.
"It was a really nice opportunity, and I think I was ready for a change," said Thompson. "I hadn't worked with a buying service before, and their position in the market is unique. They're a very marketing-driven company. It wasn't just going to a company that buys media and executes."
Thompson said she takes "the team approach" and will look to co-workers at all levels to contribute to achieving clients' goals. "Ideas can come from anyone at any time. Just because I have 20 years of experience doesn't mean I have the corner on ideas," she said.
Before FCB, Thompson worked at Poppe Tyson/Bozell and Lord, Dentsu & Partners.
"Barbara has a wonderful breadth of experience in terms of categories," Rosenberg said.