MagnaGlobal Chief Herbst-Brady Jumps to MTV Networks

Agency veteran makes the leap back to TV

MagnaGlobal president and CEO Elizabeth Herbst-Brady is leaving the agency world to take on a new role at Viacom’s MTV Networks.

Effective August 1, Herbst-Brady will serve as evp of ad sales strategy for MTVN’s Music & Logo and Entertainment Groups. She’ll report to Jeff Lucas, the head of sales for both cable network units.

In her new role, Herbst-Brady will oversee domestic ad sales strategy and business development for the two units. The Music & Logo division includes MTV, VH1, CMT and Logo, while Entertainment consists of Comedy Central, Spike TV and TV Land.

While Herbst-Brady could not be reached for comment, sources close to the executive said she gave formal notice to Magna two months ago, but agreed to stay on to help with the inevitable transition. Meanwhile, Viacom confirmed its new hire on Wednesday afternoon. 

“Strategy is the cornerstone of any successful sales organization and, with Elizabeth, we’re joined by one of the strongest and most proven strategic thinkers in media,” Lucas said in a note to his ad sales team. “As we close the book on another productive upfront season, we’re excited to build on our momentum and up our game by bringing Elizabeth on board.”

Lucas added that Herbst-Brady’s “agency and client perspective will be an invaluable asset for us.”

Herbst-Brady will work alongside the other national sales evps who report to Lucas: Neil Holt, Sean Moran, Peter Griffin, Dario Spina and Mike Tedone.

One of the most respected executives in the media agency universe, Herbst-Brady transformed MagnaGlobal during her three-year stint at the top. Under her leadership, the Interpublic Group property transitioned from an upfront-focused national television unit to a research-driven investment group that works with the Mediabrands agencies (Initiative, UM, Hill Holiday, Deutsch, Mullen, etc.) on behalf of their global client base.

Shortly after Herbst-Brady took the reins in October 2008, Magna began expanding from a pure national TV-buying play into local TV, national radio, print and digital. At the same time, she began the process of opening the lines of communications between IPG’s competitive agencies.

From an activation standpoint, the move to tear down some of the barriers that divided agencies like UM and Initiative was greeted enthusiastically by the TV ad sales community. In the past, sellers had been stymied by some of the more competitive aspects that defined the agencies’ interrelationships; Herbst-Brady eliminated much of that territorial environment, ushering in a new era of cooperation. 

It was this sort of innovation that had Lucas eyeing Herbst-Brady for a high-ranking executive position at MTVN. Last summer, Lucas told Adweek that he was particularly taken with her overhaul of Magna’s research efforts.

“A lot of credit has to go to Elizabeth, who was one of the first to introduce research into the equation back when she was at Starcom,” he said in a July 2010 interview. “It’s the smart way to do business, and it helps reinforce what’s already a solid group of smart negotiators on the agency side.”

Before her stint as the top TV buyer at Starcom, where she had oversight of some $2 billion in business as the agency’s svp, director of national broadcast, Herbst-Brady sat on the other side of the table. She spent several years running ad sales for 20th Television and held a number of sales positions at Universal Television, CBS and the Tribune Entertainment Company.

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