Media Vet Grubbs Signs With BrightLine iTV

Media agency veteran Steve Grubbs has signed on as senior strategic advisor to BrightLine iTV, the New York-based developer of interactive TV ad campaigns. In addition to helping shape the overall strategic direction of the company, Grubbs (pictured) will explore potential partnership opportunities for BrightLine and creative advertising and media agencies.
 
BrightLine, founded six years ago by CEO Jacqueline Corbelli, works directly with major TV advertisers such as Unilever to create interactive ad campaigns that typically reach 75 million households across various cable and satellite TV platforms. The company, which has doubled its revenue in each of the last two years, has worked with more than two-dozen Unilever brands, including Dove and Axe. Other clients include Burger King, Johnson & Johnson, JPMorgan Chase and Kellogg’s.
 
Grubbs and Corbelli have known each other since Grubbs’ days running Omnicom’s sports and entertainment division when the pair met on several occasions to discuss potential deals. At the end of last year, Grubbs left Omnicom, capping a 20-plus year career at the holding company, to form a consultancy, Second Act Media. Earlier, he was North American CEO of PHD; prior to that, CEO of OMD USA.
 
“He’s seen every major development over the past 25 years in media,” said Corbelli. “There’s no one better to provide insight about where it’s been and where it’s going, so it was a pretty quick phone call once I learned he’d become available.”
 
From an expenditure standpoint, interactive advertising is still a nascent medium. According to Heather Way, analyst at Dallas-based market research firm Parks Associates, spending on interactive TV ads amounted to roughly $50 million in 2009. She sees the sector expanding exponentially over the next few years, exceeding $4 billion by 2014 — assuming the successful rollout of Canoe Ventures’ national advanced TV platforms. (Canoe is a consortium of six cable operators: Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cablevision, Cox Communications, Charter and Bright House Network.) By comparison, total TV spending is estimated at $75 billion across cable and broadcast TV platforms, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers.
 
Grubbs believes that BrightLine is well positioned to capitalize in a major way as more marketers increase their budgets for interactive advertising. “Having created 160 executions, they have a strong research story,” he said of BrightLine. “They know what works and what doesn’t against many different target audiences.” Interactive advertising, he believes, “is close to the tipping point.”
 
Beyond strategic consulting, said Grubbs, “part of my role is to help get their story out to the agency and marketing community. One of the things we want to do is partner with agencies on both media and creative.”
 
BrightLine is the second key client that Grubbs has taken on since forming his consultancy. Earlier this year, he signed with Automated Media Services to advise the company on the rollout of its new in-store 3GTv Networks platform.