SRI Brings Media-Agency Executive On Board

Media-agency executive John O’Connor has joined Select Resources International as a senior partner to pursue more media-only reviews and buying-service agency clients.

Media “is an area that has been extremely active from a review standpoint, and we believe no consultants have really focused on this space,” said SRI president Catherine Bension. SRI, here, has handled several media reviews in the past few years, most recently Petsmart’s $20 million-plus search in 2000.

O’Connor, 48, has worked at several West Coast-based media agencies, including the Los Angeles offices of TBS and PWA Media and the San Diego outpost of EmpowerMediaMarketing. He joined Carat Los Angeles as new business director in 2001 and left earlier this year.

“I’ve been in enough reviews and talked to enough clients to understand their dilemma,” he said about his new post. “If you look at the criteria media shops tout—superior account service, research, and proprietary planning or buying tools, those things are not very tangible. Even clout is not easy to quantify.”

Hiring an executive with a media buying background as part of management is a departure from the typical business model search firms use to pursue or handle media reviews. Most of SRI’s competitors have ongoing or ad hoc relationships with individual media specialists, but the majority of them are not on staff.

New York-based AAR Partners works with media veteran Jane Twyon on a consultant basis. In Boston, Pile and Co. works with New York-based Matt Bryant, a former Carat executive, on media-only reviews, but he is not part of management. Jones Lundin Beals in Chi cago does have ex-Ogilvy & Mather media planner Ken Caffrey in-house (based in New York), but also has used Chicago-based buying vet Jim Surmanek as a consultant on the recent Maytag media review.

“The expertise we or anybody would need to bring on board these days is in the buying area,” said Dave Beals, Jones Lundin Beals president/CEO, noting that while his consultancy touts its media capabilities, it has no plans to change its approach.