In Depth

Jordhamo Fills Big Shoes at Zenith

Twenty years ago, Ava Jordhamo asked Peggy Green to move her from spot buying to network buying when a position opened up.

Ms. Jordhamo had been with Saatchi & Saatchi DFS Compton for only a few months. Ms. Green was running the broadcast business at what was to become Zenith Media and well on her way to becoming one of the giants of the media buying world.

Way back then, a position indeed opened up.

Now Ms. Jordhamo is executive VP and director of national broadcast at Zenith. As part of a reorganization earlier this month, Ms. Green, who had been president of broadcast, is becoming vice chairman of Zenith Media USA, charged with providing oversight to Zenith’s video investments and marketplace approach.

Ms. Jordhamo has been senior VP/account director for national broadcast, working on Boston Beer, Puma and Toyota/Lexus/Scion. Toyota has been involved in a number of original deals lately, from an engagement guarantee on buys with NBC to a mobisode deal with Fox on “Prison Break.”

Ms. Jordhamo’s new broadcast assignment is all of TV, including network, spot and related video in new media, plus radio.

“We’re trying to find the right word to define it. Maybe it’s audio-video,” she said. “We’ve been doing this already. I think it’s the way the business is evolving, and I think we need to be cognizant of that. I think we need to take a step forward and lead our business into the future, because things are platform-agnostic and people want their content on whatever device they prefer. I don’t think TV’s going away. I think TV’s still good, writers’ strike notwithstanding.”

Ms. Jordhamo said the agency plans to make sure the planning team and buying team are working more closely together to make sure ideas can be put into action for clients.

She’ll continue to work closely with Ms. Green, particularly on multiplatform, 360-degree deals.

“I started as a buying assistant in spots when we were still called Saatchi & Saatchi DFS Compton and grew up under Peggy,” she said. “I could never profess to be the wizard she is, but we’ve worked very closely and we see eye-to-eye on a lot of things. I’ve learned a tremendous amount from Peggy.”

Ms. Jordhamo grew up in Forest Hills, in the borough of Queens in New York City, until her family moved to Westbury on Long Island when she was 12 years old. At various times in her youth, she wanted to be a music critic, a food critic, a dog breeder and a social worker.

She discovered at the State University of New York at Albany that she hated accounting and decided instead to major in marketing with minors in psychology and English. At Albany, a student at the college concert board got her interested in the media business. His sister was running the training program at Blair, the media rep firm. She interviewed and started as a sales assistant.

After a few months she decided she’d prefer being on the buying side. Ms. Green hired her at Saatchi & Saatchi DFS Compton for a position buying in very small markets such as Laredo, Texas.

“I thought it was interesting, but then I had some friends over on the network side, and I thought that seemed more interesting—nothing against spot. So I asked her if a position opened up to move me, and she did and that’s pretty much it,” Ms. Jordhamo said.

Away from work, Ms. Jordhamo has gone through some big changes in her personal life.

She got married two years ago. The couple acquired a couple of dogs a few months later and in May had a daughter, Jolene.

“I’m sure that she’ll give us fits when we’re older, but she’s amazing now,” Ms. Jordhamo said.

More nights at home aren’t a problem because, in addition to TV being a part of Ms. Jordhamo’s business, her husband is a huge TV fan.

They watch sports and series. “We can never finish everything that’s on our DVR,” she said.
Favorite series that she’s missing because of the writers strike include CBS’ “The Big Bang Theory” and ABC’s “Dirty Sexy Money.” And, although she can’t buy ads on them, she’s a fan of HBO and Showtime, especially “Weeds” and “Californication.”

When they do get out, Ms. Jordhamo and her husband enjoy live music. Around New Year’s they saw the Word, a blues collaboration of the North Mississippi Allstars with John Medeski and Robert Randolph, at a club called Terminal 5.

“That made us feel really old,” she said. “It was just this huge crazy club, and we’re used to seeing that band in a much more intimate setting.”

They also turned out for Fab Faux, the Beatles tribute band with Will Lee from “The Late Show With David Letterman” and Jimmy Vivino from “Late Night With Conan O’Brien.”

“They play a couple of performances a year at various places in New York,” she said. “If you’re a Beatles fan, you need to catch it.”

Who knew?: Ms. Jordhamo said she’s never been able to live down a high school link to the music videos of the band Duran Duran. As an assignment for a journalism class, she wanted to interview Wayne Robbins, the music writer at Newsday. “He agreed to do it as long as he could interview me about this new network that had just come out on cable called MTV,” she said. “It was a great article about MTV and it was in the Sunday Newsday in … the big entertainment section. And the quote I will never live down and the most embarrassing thing that I said in reference to [Duran Duran’s ‘Hungry Like the Wolf’’] video was how I love the conceptual videos, as opposed to the ones where the band are just standing there. That has followed me.”