The 12 Smartest Media Agency Execs in the Business Today


Executive of the Year: Chris Boothe CEO, Spark

It would be easy to misinterpret Chris Boothe’s impressive career path as the simple result of coincidence. But that grossly underestimates the quality that the CEO of Spark, Starcom MediaVest Group’s up-and-coming media shop, has employed best in his rise: the ability to super-serve the tiniest details while never losing focus on the big picture.

In 1987, the fresh-faced graduate of Miami University in Ohio landed his first job as a media associate on Kraft at Leo Burnett—the same day, as luck would have it, as Laura Desmond, now CEO of Starcom MediaVest Group. Boothe never left the family, climbing the ranks to a four-year run as Starcom’s head buyer (he was a key right hand to then-CEO John Muszynski), and culminating in his being named Starcom COO in late 2010.

A year ago, Desmond picked Boothe to run Spark. “When you become a CEO for one of the SMG brands, it’s not by chance,” says Desmond. “It’s because you’ve prepared for it, and you’ve had enough diversity in your roles—that you’re ready to do the job.”

Boothe has turned a small, digital-leaning shop into an integrated media player on par with some of the major media units of rival holding companies. Spark boasts lead status for brands like Taco Bell and Ace Hardware and major accounts such as Kao (Jergens, John Frieda) and AbbVie. Those gets have helped Spark double its billings to more than $1.3 billion and grow revenue some 35 percent to more than $40 million in the last year, per Adweek estimates.

While no one person can take all the credit, Boothe believes strongly in a hands-on approach to winning and keeping business. “A lot of our clients are looking for that type of high touch from senior-level folks but knowing they have the comfort and the size of SMG behind them,” he says. That’s part of the startup ethos he’s working to foster across the agency, to which he’s added staff like millennial insights expert Scott Hess, and, in a role reversal of sorts, traditional media vet Muszynski as Spark’s chief investment officer.

Boothe’s “got this big vision from a macro perspective, yet somehow can operate down at the micro level,” says Muszynski. “Most people cannot do both.”

A casual observer wouldn’t be mistaken in thinking that everyone in the media business is allergic to neckties. Boothe stands out for always wearing one. That sort of attention to his own presentation extends to every aspect of the agency’s new business pitches, down to the attire of Spark’s staff and to the flowers on the presentation table. And while those nuances might seem trivial, they serve to illustrate a point of difference that’s helped Spark win over new clients.

“The process he’s put in place in Spark, where they have a very well-organized business perspective of how they go to market through the whole planning process, is what sets them apart,” says Juliet Corsinita, senior director of media and brand partnerships at Taco Bell.

Spark has managed to appeal to challenger brands like Taco Bell in part because, as the smallest of SMG’s three agencies, it too is a challenger. But if Boothe continues to meet his mandate, it will have to shed that mantle. Spark’s “growth rates are the highest across the SMG network,” says Desmond. “We’d like to see it expand globally. We’d like to see it crack top-five agency in terms of billings in the next two to three years.”

But only if the details are done right. —Gabriel Beltrone


Scott Hagedorn CEO, Annalect

Three years ago, Annalect was just a scribbled idea on a cocktail napkin. These days, it's an 850-person global organization that Omnicom chief John Wren praises on Wall Street earnings calls, describing it as a transformational force in how agencies leverage information.

When Omnicom Media Group CEO Daryl Simm approached Scott Hagedorn to create the new digital, data and analytics platform, the then-CEO of PHD might have thought twice. He'd just helped land the $950 million GSK business.

Simm's new remit would also require Hagedorn to relearn hard-core data, marketing technology and software development, the kind of digital skills Hagedorn moved away from as he climbed OMG’s management ranks. Was Hagedorn ready to tackle Big Data and wrestle into suitable form for Omnicom?

The answer became clear. Hagedorn has never been one to shy from challenges. After he started and sold his own digital agency, he was recruited to head up digital advertising at Rapp Collins, where OMD outsourced data analytics. Hagedorn moved to OMD and built out platforms measuring digital.

Annalect pitches against the likes of Adobe, McKinsey and Nielsen, giving Hagedorn a view of the future. "Our industry stands to have some significant disruption," he says. "We have to learn how to deal with the artisanal side of how we do our craft in an increasingly automated world."

Annalect also dovetails with Wren and Co.'s mission to "build, don’t buy" when it comes to generating growth in the digital arena, even as other holding companies engineer much of their digital growth through acquisitions. —Noreen O’Leary


Rich Gagnon EVP, Initiative

Rich Gagnon downplays the trickiness of transplanting 100 media planners and 11 accounts that he oversaw at Draftfcb (as chief media officer) into fellow Interpublic Group shop Initiative (where he's now an evp). But that’s just his nature, as a modest team player who delivers without complaints.

That said, the transfer of business that collectively represents about $30 million in revenue is a tall task. And this year's roll-up of media planning and buying cousins came after Draftfcb lost three planning assignments in 18 months: Taco Bell, MillerCoors and SC Johnson. Still, Gagnon managed the move flawlessly, underscoring the strength of his connections with clients, staffers and peers.

"There's a degree of risk when we go through changes like this," acknowledges Peter Mears, Initiative’s North American president. "But I think it talks to Rich’s great client relationships that we’re able to integrate everything without a hitch."

"He'll tell you that there was a lot of work going on behind the scenes and it wasn’t all about Rich," Mears adds. "But, you know, a lot of it was about Rich."

It helped that Initiative already bought media for the bulk of the incoming accounts, including Merck, Amtrak and Dow. So, as media planning unbundled from creative, it bundled with buying. In his explanation to marketers, however, Gagnon focused on services. "The message was: 'Same level of integration, more resources,'" he recalls. "Same team but with a lot more firepower."

The words were "communicated in a very partner-orientated way between Draftfcb and Initiative," says Merck's Chris Meringolo. "And for me, the benefits were very evident." Pure Gagnon style. —Andrew McMains


Stacy Minero Leader, Content Marketing and Strategic Partnerships, Mindshare

Mindshare's Stacy Minero jokes that she has been brainstorming since the second grade. Actually, she has—having been among a select group of students at Glenn Elementary School in Old Bridge, N.J., that tackled puzzles, word games and creative projects at th "It was for creative problem solving, unlocking imagination and progressive approaches to learning," she explains.

The 37-year-old Minero has since parlayed her knack for creative thinking into a fruitful tenure at Mindshare, leading communications planning for American Express and earning the trust of North American CEO Antony Young, who in February promoted her to lead content marketing in the U.S.

Even before the promotion, however, Minero was a leading player in branded content. Last September, she helped AmEx launch an interactive brand channel featuring fashion and music programming and penetrating 55 million homes. To date, 8 million people have visited the channel, which claims higher-than-average engagement rates.

Also in the fall, Minero brokered a "content-to-commerce" effort involving AmEx, NBCU and Fox that enabled viewers of shows like Bravo's Top Chef Masters and Fox’s New Girl to buy products via a second-screen app.

"She always wants to bring the best, and that's where you get the great ideas," says Young. "You go past the first three and then you start to get to the stuff that’s more inventive, more creative and more unexpected."

Adds AmEx's Rich Lehrfeld: "She’s incredibly smart, insightful and optimistic. She’s a cheerleader, you know? She helps people imagine what’s possible."

All that brainstorming certainly has paid off. —Andrew McMains


Maureen Bosetti EVP, National Broadcast Director, Optimedia

Maureen Bosetti has the distinction of being responsible for getting Tina Fey into skintight neon roller-skating gear. The director of national broadcast for Optimedia convinced the star of NBC comedy 30 Rock, and several other cast members, to participate in a clever spot during the 2012 Super Bowl promoting Pizza Hut—a first for the quirky meta-comedy. The result? Record pie sales.

With a background that includes sales experience (at Discovery Communications), Bosetti's buy-side bona-fides are well rounded. Over the past nine years at Optimedia, she’s demonstrated versatility—from executing NBC’s partnership with Pizza Hut to an awareness-raising effort around the BBC’s flagship show Doctor Who on competing cable networks, to a key integration for KitchenAid on Bravo’s Top Chef. To boot, her participation in new business pitches that involved TV buying have netted the Publicis-owned agency about $300 million in incremental billings.

So what's the next thing Bosetti sees on the horizon for the TV business? "I think the big one, and we’ve talked about it for a while, is this notion of audience buying," she says. Bosetti admits that super-specific, guarantee-able audience data won’t appear in your inbox tomorrow, but client and buyer interest, she says, will finally organize Big Data. "Whether you call it addressable or buying against set-top box data, I think it’s something we’re very interested in," she says.

The key to staying ahead, argues Bosetti, is staying aware of everything. "If you're [in] national TV, you have to pay attention to everything that’s happening in the media industry," she says. "If you don’t have that, it’ll set you back in the long run. There’s just so much that changes in media." —Sam Thielman


Andrea Redniss Chief Activation Officer, Media Storm

When news broke last year that Kristen Stewart was cheating (in real life) on her Twilight beau Robert Pattinson, few people beyond hormonal teenage girls saw opportunity or seized upon it. But Media Storm's chief activation officer Andrea Redniss didn’t hesitate for a second.

The Norwalk, Conn.-based independent media agency was at the time midcampaign for Cosmopolis, David Cronenberg's film starring the now-jilted vampire actor, and Redniss decided to change up the strategy in real time to chase the eyeballs flocking to the buzzy gossip item. "Everything from search and social all the way down … Even our larger buys we actually changed as a result of that, some of our marquee placements," she explains. "We hadn’t necessarily been as involved in the social areas or celebrity and pop culture areas before, and we hadn’t planned to be in those as heavily."

Such a quick, laser-focused move to shift a client into an ever more dynamic online conversation in no small part helped earn Redniss her current title. It also helped the 175-person agency grow its billings by more than 20 percent in 2012, opening a Los Angeles office and adding new work for Connecticut Tourism and Open Road Films.

Redniss received the promotion just a year after joining as a managing director of digital, all thanks to her savvy at creating the kind of elusive watercooler effect that leads to consumer interactions with brands.
"It's really about moving behaviors quickly," says her boss, co-founder and managing partner Craig Woerz. "Andrea doesn’t get 13 weeks to work with her clients to move their needle. She gets like a week or two." —Gabriel Beltrone


John Montgomery COO, GroupM Interaction

When John Montgomery took on the post of COO of GroupM Interaction in 2008, the job was all geek: manage Big Data to better target digital ads. But what agencies saw as a gold mine, regulators saw as a consumer privacy land mine. "There were no rules governing" data use, recalls Montgomery. "We weren't paying enough attention to privacy issues."

Before long his search for responsible industry rules and practices for data use landed him in the middle of D.C. debates over these bold-faced matters.

"Issues like privacy, piracy, vendor terms and conditions, data rights and usage seem prosaic to some people. But if you can't manage them, you are dealing with one hand tied behind your back," says Rob Norman, GroupM’s global chief digital officer.

Montgomery's overriding mission is to keep the government off the ad industry’s back. He played a critical role in developing the two-year-old Digital Advertising Alliance’s ad choices privacy self-regulation program. He’s testified before Congress and represented the industry in countless industry meetings here and in Europe.

Dick O'Brien, evp of government relations at the 4A’s, calls Montgomery the industry’s "go-to man in protecting consumer privacy. He’s played a pivotal role in preventing unwarranted government action that could have seriously undercut the opportunities of the digital marketplace."

Named the chairman of the 4A's media policy committee just a month ago, Montgomery’s role as policy wonk is far from over.

"The industry is under a lot of pressure. It's important to our future strategy," explains Montgomery. "We have to do what we can to self-regulate." —Katy Bachman


Keith Lusby SVP, Group Media Director, mediahub/Mullen

13-year veteran of independent media agencies, Keith Lusby jumped at the chance in 2011 to join his first integrated shop, mediahub/Mullen. Still, he wondered at the time: Might being a media guy in a place driven by creatives be a step back?

Lusby found his answer in a comment from JetBlue's Marty St. George after Mullen won the airline’s business. In meetings, the marketing chief never could tell who represented agency: creative, strategy or media practices.

The group media director hit the ground running, leading the winning media strategy presentation for engagement marketer Constant Contact where Mullen went up against Lusby's larger former employer, Carat.

He was also behind the pitch for technology product protection company SquareTrade, with media strategy called out as a reason for the AOR win.

Lusby's JetBlue effort, "Get Away With It," just won a Silver Effie, and he got the marketer selected as the only airline beta testing Google Glass.

And his work for Barnes & Noble's Nook made smart use of cinema advertising, given that 90 percent of all B&N stores are within five miles of a movie theater.
Lusby still seems amused at life within a full-service shop. He recounts a creative team's surprised reaction when told mediahub was preparing for a three-hour media-only new-business pitch.

"They're used to seeing media as a five-to-10-minute thing at the end of a presentation," he says. "You’d be surprised at how much work you can do to dissect someone’s media plan to find value for them."

Just further proof that media takes a back seat to no one. —Noreen O'Leary


Jo Zmood EVP, Client Strategy and Development, Posterscope

It's not the sort of convergent thinking one would expect from an out-of-home media agency.

Last year, after Jo Zmood led Posterscope's winning pitch for Chivas Brothers Blend, sold only at airport duty-free outlets, she felt the brief went further than just airport point of sale. Zmood looked to tap opportunities throughout a traveler’s journey, whether online planning a trip, booking a flight or even on Facebook. "Rather than a play-based solution, we made it an audience-based solution," says Posterscope’s head of client strategy and development. The execution worked so well that Posterscope was given additional brands and regions from Chivas parent Pernod Ricard Americas.

In a medium typically used for delivering mass coverage and brand awareness, Zmood has redefined Posterscope's OOH practice to include client-owned assets, retail partnerships, and the mobile and laptop devices used when consumers are on the go.

Since joining Posterscope in 2011, Zmood also was instrumental in the development of the agency's global Outdoor Consumer Study. She recognized the growth and potential of Hispanic consumers given their embrace of new technology and mobile media. Those insights helped to drive new business at Anthropos, Posterscope’s multicultural unit, whose business grew 20 percent last year.

Zmood's broad view of media and consumer insights befits an exec whose career has stretched across several continents—her native Australia, Europe, the Middle East, U.S. and Latin America—and has encompassed strategic planning posts across traditional and online media at the likes of Havas, Mindshare, MEC and Bates. —Noreen O’Leary


William Swayne EVP, Managing Director, Carat USA

At a time when more clients are looking to integrate their brands around the globe, William Swayne has got the passport to prove his international chops.

Now 36 and an evp, managing director at Carat USA, the 13-year Aegis veteran spent his first five years working on the Adidas account based out of the agency's London headquarters, then relocated to Hong Kong for a stint overseeing Asia Pacific regional accounts. Since 2010, he’s been based at Carat’s booming New York office where his remit includes running the company’s Procter & Gamble business, including the conglomerate’s umbrella "Thank You Moms" campaign launched during the 2012 Olympics.

"There were seven or eight agencies that were involved in the development and communications for that campaign, and Will was right at the center of it," says Doug Ray, global president of Carat. "He sees and understands what it takes to work with multiple clients in multiple markets." P&G has already re-upped the project with Carat for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics and for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Brazil.

Swayne, who also oversees all U.S. media work for six Diageo brands as well as Carat's Smucker’s business, has continued to help the agency lock up new business in 2013. He was the global lead on the agency’s Mondelez win, which earned it the global communications planning role on the conglomerate’s chocolate and coffee brands.

With so much of the map already covered, where will Swayne head next? Despite his globe-trotting CV, he insists he's staying put. "I absolutely see my future here in the U.S.," he says. "The marketers here seem a little braver." —Gabriel Beltrone


Tara Poto, Group EVP, North America, Content and Experiences, UM

A mere decade ago, Tara Poto was working in advertising at Calvin Klein when she got the opportunity to become a leader on UM's Johnson & Johnson business. Though she fretted at the time that leaving the high-profile fashion world could stunt her career, Poto has no regrets. In fact, it turned out to be the best decision she ever made.

Shortly after joining UM, Poto was asked to set up a new division, J3, working exclusively on Johnson & Johnson brands. There, she was responsible for cross-platform media efforts such as "1-Day Starts Today" for J&J's Acuvue, in which teens were asked to post online videos describing their dream day for a chance to be mentored by the likes of Demi Lovato and Joe Jonas.

Now in its third year, the campaign is expected to go into a fourth round. "A lot of clients think of content as one-offs," says Poto. "But we're trying to move all of our clients to invest in content with embedded storytelling within media and marketing plans."

Under her watch, J3 was the most awarded agency at J&J's annual James E. Burke Marketing Awards, which recognizes the most innovative marketing plans in the company.

Last year, Poto was named to head UM's custom content division where she is responsible for most of the agency’s clients, among them J&J, Chrysler and Sony.

One of her most recent efforts was creating customized integration of Sony products and music into each episode of ABC's Jimmy Kimmel Live. The partnership features Sony Music artists performing in Kimmel’s back lot while audience members shoot the performance using Sony products, then post their footage on Kimmel’s YouTube channel. —Noreen O’Leary


Rising Star: Jen DeMartino Media Supervisor, Havas Media

Jen DeMartino moves fast.

In 2009, a day after graduating from Boston University, DeMartino joined Havas Media and within just a couple years was helping to manage the agency's largest account, Fidelity Investments.

On her way to Havas, the New Jersey native scrambled to line up college internships, getting valuable experience at Condé Nast and in account management at Havas corporate sibling Arnold.

DeMartino moved on to Fidelity at a challenging time, when several key people on the account were leaving. While it can take marketers months to adjust to a new client and vice versa, it didn't take the 25-year-old long to build mutual trust.

"Jen is something of a duck," says Havas Media account director Blair Ramsey. "No matter how fiercely she is paddling below the surface, she makes her work look effortless, a major advantage when facing clients."

Her willingness to help across agency departments, even taking on unglamorous jobs like improving billing and trafficking methods, has earned DeMartino a solid reputation within Havas.

"If people need help or want to brainstorm, I love doing that," says DeMartino.

That poise beyond her years was on display last year when she shared her team's new-business pitch from a 4A’s Institute of Advanced Advertising Studies program for young industry professionals. DeMartino’s team, which included talent from other agencies, won best in class, and DeMartino confidently presented it before more than 100 people back at the home team.

Only this time, she didn't rush it. —Noreen O’Leary

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