Initiative Names Activation Chief

NEW YORK Initiative North America has restructured its buying operations, naming 13-year agency veteran Tim Spengler to the new post of chief activation officer, responsible for most of the agency’s media buying activities, including network TV, local broadcast, magazines and online.

Spengler had been executive vice president in charge of national broadcast. He now reports to Richard Beaven, CEO of the agency’s North American operations. Previously, he reported to agency global CEO Alex Gerster.

While the reorganization at the Interpublic Group shop focuses on buying, Spengler said he would also “figure out how we’re going to connect consumers with brands. It’s not about shoving brands down a consumer’s throat, but about figuring out ways to make brands more relevant.”

The restructuring is designed to help the shop “adapt to what is now a digital age, where content is kind of seamlessly being moved around various platforms,” Spengler said. “For our clients to take advantage of all the new opportunities, we need to be ready to view it as a total media package as opposed to a sequence of individual media parts. We need to look at it as one, because that’s what the consumer sees—content.”

Several senior managers who had reported to Gerster now report to Spengler. They are: Sue Johenning, evp, director, local broadcast; Ray Dundas and Scott Haugenes, both svps, group directors, national broadcast; Beth Fidoten, svp, director, print services; and Michael Hayes, vp, managing director, interactive.

Media planning remains a separate function, although Spengler hopes the reorganization will facilitate closer ties between the two functions. “That’s the magic zone, when planners and buyers are working together,” he said.

Spengler will also head the new Implementation Council, a group that includes Johenning, Dundas, Haugenes, Hayes and Fidoten. Also on the council is Alan Cohen, evp, managing director, Initiative Innovations and Entertainment, who continues to report to Gerster. The council’s mission: help clients identify and implement the best cross-platform solutions.

“We have to rethink our organization from top to bottom to optimize this complex new world for our clients,” Gerster said. “We believe this new approach is the best way to effectively navigate in a convergent landscape.”

Other media agencies are making similar moves to adapt to the digital era. Last year, Publicis Groupe’s Starcom Mediavest Group created a Video Integration Group that consolidated buying across broadcast TV, cable, broadband and wireless.

Omnicom Group’s OMD is in the midst of a restructuring that would divide the agency into operational units based on specific delivery channels, such as video, audio, graphics and mobility.