DVRs. PPMs. C3. Minute-by-minute. Rapid Report. Head-spinning advancement in media choices, technology and audience measurement—and the more stringent accountability demands of marketers—all have served to radically revamp the role of the media agency executive. It's certainly a job of a much different stripe than 22 years back, when Mediaweek's predecessor, Marketing & Media Decisions, picked its first-ever batch of Media All-Stars. The jargon and choices have changed markedly, but finding innovative media solutions for the client remains paramount.
Take the annual upfront negotiations, that intense chess match between the broadcast networks and media agencies. This year's Media Executive of the Year Rino Scanzoni—who, as chief investment officer at GroupM, directs strategy at the buying shops MindShare, MediaCom and Mediaedge:cia and oversees $12.5 billion in TV spending per year—points out that merely "dusting off" previous years' negotiating strategies no longer cuts the mustard. "You have to be prepared to go against the flow," he says.
Of course, no star shines without a supporting cast, and Scanzoni and other All-Stars happily share center stage. Scanzoni instructs that he is simply "the big-picture choreographer," while at the other side of the galaxy, Rising Star Nicole Hayes of MindShare, just beginning to burn hot, gives props to her "very forward-thinking" colleagues and clients.
No matter their media specialties, the true All-Stars in this business are, of course, those who possess a curious streak, always on the watch for that all-new-and-different, home-run execution. That curiosity explains why Initiative West's Alan Cohen, All-Star in the nontraditional media category, toured cell-phone factories while vacationing in Tokyo. "You've got to expose yourself to things that other people don't see," he says, to "have ideas no one else will have." These aren't just All-Stars—they're supernovas.