Less than two weeks after speedily wrapping up Viacom's upfront sales, Jeff Lucas is stepping down as the company's ad sales chief to become Snapchat's vice president and head of global sales. He'll be replaced by Sean Moran, who was promoted to head of marketing and partner solutions, Viacom Ad Sales.
Moran, who has been with Viacom for 21 years, previously served as evp, national brand sales. He'll report to COO Tom Dooley. Lucas will leave the company later this summer.
Lucas' Snapchat departure had been rumored for several weeks, and led to a report last month that he would be leaving in July to become the company's new COO. Both Viacom and Snapchat said the story was inaccurate, but stopped short of issuing a full denial.
Lucas will lead Snapchat's entire sales organization, including offices in Venice, Calif., New York City, Chicago, London, Sydney and Toronto. He will also help oversee the execution of Snapchat Partners, the mobile app's new ads API (application programming interface), which is expected to rake in hundreds of millions of dollars over the next few years. At any rate, his rolodex of advertisers should serve as a huge boost for his new employer.
"We're thrilled to welcome Jeff to the Snapchat family," said a Snapchat spokesperson.
Earlier this month, a source with knowledge of Viacom's upfront negotiations said that Lucas had lined up an ad sales team that could carry on without him.
"Viacom has the industry's best sales organization, earning the highest regard from its partners by every measure: experience, innovation, creativity and ability to deliver," said Dooley in a statement. "Sean is the right leader to guide this group to new heights. He has been a standout performer with Viacom and his knowledge of our business and the advertising marketplace is unsurpassed.
"Equally important, Sean will be supported by a committed group of senior leaders who know Viacom's brands and their fans, as well as understand how to navigate the media landscape's constant evolution. This team works tirelessly to exceed our partners' expectations."
Moran will oversee Viacom's Music & Entertainment and Kids & Family portfolios, which include MTV, VH1, Comedy Central, Spike, Logo, Nickelodeon, TV Land and CMT.
Dooley praised the departing Lucas, noting, "It has been a pleasure to work with Jeff and we all look forward to collaborating with him in his new endeavors. He has helped build the strongest and deepest sales team in the business and leaves us in an excellent position to continue to succeed. Together, we selected Sean to guide this stalwart sales team, which will have the benefit of Jeff's assistance through a transition period."
Lucas said in a statement, "My time with Viacom has been exciting and extremely rewarding. I relied on Sean as a partner and a friend. He is ideally suited to lead the Viacom sales team and I look forward to working with all of them as our industry evolves and grows."
Less than two weeks ago, Lucas wrapped up Viacom's upfront business, securing 8 percent CPM (cost per thousand viewers reached) increases and a 10 percent increase in volume, providing it some much-needed good news during its board's ongoing struggle for control of the company. That's more than double the 3 percent to 4 percent increases Viacom received last year.
There was also robust upfront interest in Snapchat after the advertising deal Viacom made with the company in February (advertisers can only get access to MTV and Comedy Central's Discover Channels through Viacom). So Lucas will still be closely involved with Viacom via that Snapchat partnership.
Buyers said last month that they didn't expect the ugly battle to affect upfront negotiations as long as Lucas remained at the helm. That also put pressure on Viacom and Lucas to keep him in place through upfront negotiations; once those wrapped, the clock began ticking on his departure.