‘Unruly Julie’ Wants a Job


Former marketing SVP Julie Roehm speaks to Media Village’s Jack Myers, as TV guru Shelly Palmer looks on

Julie Roehm might be the highest-profile marketing exec in America right now, after getting canned from Wal-Mart following just 10 months on the job. And since she’s on “14 minutes and 33 seconds” of her 15 minutes of fame, she’s talking to as many people as possible.

Speaking to a room full of sleet-laden media execs and entrepreneurs this morning at a non-descript room in midtown Manhattan, she was cagey about whether she’s looking for a job, but did tell moderator Jack Myers about a venture she’s trying that could, ultimately, undercut the “upfront” market. (For those of you not in TV, that’s when TV networks try to whip advertisers into a frenzy to spend lots of money to lock up air time before a season has even begun.) Roehm and a colleague came up with an idea to auction the time, instead, and with eBay, she says, is trying it with cable, spot and scatter (meaning ad space that’s not in the “upfront”). Today, it’s a fraction of the $9 billion market, but if it works, could be much higher. It’s based on a NASDAQ-like model, with the principles of “arbitrage, anonymity, flexibility and transparency,” she said.

She acknowledged that both she and Wal-Mart management made a mistake in hiring a change agent like “Unruly Julie,” and said she hopes the way they put various agencies through months and many dollars of work wasn’t a harbinger of what Myers called the “commiditization” of the ad industry. “You just hope that this little example doesn’t create caution” on the part of agencies, she said, to go for big accounts.

She wouldn’t answer Myers’ persistent questions about whether she’s going to take a job at a big company — having managed billion-dollar budgets at Wal-Mart, and at Chrysler before that, she could — or just be a consultant, or a “connector,” like today’s host Bill Sobel, of the New York Media Information Exchange Group (video will go up later on Tvmainstream.com).

Myers joked that the only things the press in the room would pick up was that Roehm said she likes men (she’s a rare woman exec in many instances) and that she’s seldom home (she’s been traveling a lot). There. We did it.

But our favorite quote was: “When people call, I answer,” only not so much anymore after AP, Reuters, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times told her they were going to write stuff about her and she had to give them a quote.