Media All-Stars 2003: Out of Home – Scott MacDuffie

Give him a campaign with tight deadlines and complicated buys, and he thrives

Scott MacDuffie’s upbringing explains a lot about why he excels at his job. As the youngest of seven children, he learned how to fight for what he wanted and to think out of the box to get noticed.

“I had practice in having to fight for the last pork chop at dinner,” says MacDuffie, senior vp, director of out-of-home media at Zenith Media.

The skills gained in his frenetic childhood transferred perfectly to out of home, with its tight deadlines, client demands and competition for the most creative platforms. MacDuffie has 15 years experience in the outdoor, non-traditional and cinema advertising arenas. In the five years that he has been at Zenith, the company’s OOH billings have grown more than 200 percent as the number of clients gravitating to the medium continues to expand.

Clients looking for a high-profile campaign that breaks through the clutter approach Zenith’s OOH division for nontraditional vehicles that will set them apart. ”Everybody is pressed to find ways to put new media on their schedules and tie it into a cohesive package for the client,” says Claer-Marie Harris, executive vp at Telmar, a media-audience-measurement company. “Scott brings the client into the OOH arena.”

MacDuffie and the Zenith outdoor team purchased OOH activity for 37 separate brands in 2003 in campaigns across the top 25 local markets. “Advertisers get sandwiched into what buyers know how to do,” says Harris. “Scott does gutsy stuff, pushing different corners of OOH.” Harris, who creates software that measures nontraditional outdoor media, says, “He’s used every form of out-of-home media known to man—cups, beaches, stadium backs, treadmills.”

That type of expertise was crucial in pulling off Toyota’s inaugural campaign for its Scion youth division because the campaign used eight types of nontraditional outdoor media. “It was a stealth approach,” says Dave Ehlers, senior vp, director of business development at Zenith Media. “Scott’s great at coming up with creative nontraditional avenues while working hand in hand with creative agencies.” The project targeted the 18-to-24-year-old consumer in four major California cities—Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Francisco and San Diego.

Because the audience is active and outside, MacDuffie orchestrated the use of such media as 144 building projections using illumination techniques, 11,000 wild postings and 33,000 window-cling decals—all outside clubs, surf shops, record stores and local bars. The campaign, which ran from April through July, also included 420 theater screens, and postcards, billboards and bulletins.

MacDuffie’s nontraditional expertise was again indispensable leading up to the New York City Marathon last month, when Zenith Media had a race of its own to run. The company had one week to put together a “living billboard” for Tylenol in Times Square. The project was an installation above the Champs retail sports store at Broadway and 42nd Street that read: “If you think you’ve got muscle pain, just ask these people.” Under the board, runners took turns on two treadmills 12 hours a day for the five days before the marathon. Installing the treadmills and platform required hiring construction workers, testing treadmills, getting client and vendor approvals, and getting the vinyl artwork created and shipped. This level of complexity would usually require a month to put together.

MacDuffie’s can-do attitude and rapport with vendors influence every project, says Michael DePalma, director of new business development at Snap Marketing. DePalma worked with MacDuffie for more than two years on the Verizon and Verizon Wireless accounts, which together are the nation’s fifth-largest-spending client in OOH. Last summer, the team got an assignment from Verizon New Jersey the week before its Fourth of July weekend deadline. “The only reason we pulled it off in such a short time was his ability to use his relationships with vendors,” contends DePalma.

The plan revolved around the state’s beaches. The team’s frenzied buying of nontraditional vehicles and venues through the week resulted in advertisements on aerial banners with full creative designs, golf-course driving ranges, and a “station domination” at the PATH train station in Hoboken. In addition, Verizon had a hot air balloon at the state’s annual Festival of Ballooning and a wrapped ad van with a big-screen TV that displayed the ad to shore-goers. MacDuffie made sure everything was completed in time.

“[Scott] stays on top of many projects but knows how to delegate,” says DePalma. “He works well with the people under him and respects and trusts his employees to do their allocated work.” Aimee Deeken is an assistant editor at Mediaweek.