Cella Writes Next Chapter

NEW YORK Bill Cella has spent most of his career working at big media companies and ad shops. When he left Interpublic Group at the end of last year, as CEO of Magna and vice chairman of Draftfcb, he knew he wanted to make the next chapter in his career an entrepreneurial one.

Ten months into the new chapter, Cella has created a media-marketing consultancy that has quietly lined up a dozen clients from the traditional and emerging media worlds including the NFL Network, ShopText, which specializes in mobile e-commerce applications, and Screenvision, one of the biggest sellers of cinema advertising in the country.

Twenty years ago, Cella recalls, he thought about going into business for himself and had conversations about buying a New York-area radio station. The deal didn’t go through but the station is worth a small fortune today. “So for a while now I’ve had it in the back of my mind to go out on my own and create a company from scratch,” he says.

Cella tested his entrepreneurial skills at IPG — eight years ago he founded and built Magna, the holding company’s market intelligence and research unit.

His new firm, called The Cella Group, which is based in New York, offers services that include creating and executing multi-platform sales strategies for video content producers; advising clients on sports and entertainment sponsorships and other branded-content opportunities; and evaluating ad agency and media shop performance and conducting agency searches for clients.

He is also using his 30-plus years of media contacts to open doors for customers, helping clients fill executive positions or raise cash for new ventures.

For most of his career, which included a hitch at the ABC Television Network, Cella has focused on traditional media, but is now learning a lot about digital media as his firm brings in more business from that side. One example: TVU Networks, a video streaming company that is marketing its streaming technology as more cost-efficient than the applications of many competitors.

Cella, who is CEO of his namesake company, has also brought a partner into the firm — Bruce Mello, who has both a digital and traditional media background.

The pair has been business acquaintances for 20-plus years. Earlier this year, when Mello was considering a new corporate job, he and Cella ran into each other in Stratton, Vt., where they both have second homes. After meeting several more times, Mello agreed to join Cella’s firm as president and COO.

Most recently, Mello developed mobile applications for Univision, and before that he was evp at Skygo, a Silicon Valley-based wireless ad network and technology company. Earlier he was on the founding management team of 24/7 Media.

Also on Cella’s client roster is Next New Networks, a startup digital media venture that has launched more than a dozen niche Web networks that cater to car enthusiasts, comic book fans and independent movie producers, among other segments. Viacom veterans Herb Scannell and Fred Seibert founded that company.

“There are a lot of companies starting up in the digital media space,” Cella says. “For many of them, it’s hard to get the attention of a major agency or media company. We have the contacts and we can help them build their ad sales space.”