SNTA Preview: Bob Cesa

Mar 7, 2005  •  Post A Comment

By Wayne Karrfalt

Special to TelevisionWeek

Twentieth Television will have its hands full at this year’s Syndicated Network Television Association conference, introducing media buyers to three new syndicated shows and two new off-net launches, said Bob Cesa, the company’s executive VP of advertising sales.

A robust slate has become the norm at Twentieth. Its affiliated Fox station group, with only 15 prime-time hours of network programming, has a lot of holes to fill. The syndicator has come to rely on the annual SNTA confab as a place to sell ads for these shows and to as explore new frontiers with advertisers.

In an industry not unfamiliar with executive turnover, Mr. Cesa is a fixture-he has been head of Twentieth Television’s ad sales division since its inception in 1990. His affability and empowering management style have instilled his sales team with the same loyalty he has shown the company.

Mr. Cesa’s decision last year to give up his cable programming sales responsibilities to concentrate only on ad sales for syndication and DirecTV further underlined his commitment to his team. “It was just too much,” he said. “I am really much happier doing just ad sales, because you’re calling on a whole different set of buyers, with different timetables than program sales.

“Also, the opportunity to work on DirecTV sounded very exciting at the time and has turned out to be even more fulfilling than I thought.”

Interactive advertising components, such as the point-and-click informational menus and targeted spot delivery on the satellite platform, have the Twentieth sales division buzzing coming into SNTA. Mr. Cesa said he and Senior VP and General Advertising Sales Manager David Barrington took a trip to London last July to “look under the hood” of what BSkyB has been able to offer its ad clients so far in the United Kingdom. The company is previewing these features to clients in the United States, with plans to start rolling them out later this year.

“Now when my salespeople go to speak to planners at agencies or clients or associate media directors, they’re not just talking about syndication and cable programming-they’re also talking about DirecTV and all the advanced services they can sell,” Mr. Cesa said.

The conference is also helpful in reconnecting with longtime clients, which his team knows not to neglect.

“Bob’s father was in the garment business-he had an overcoat factory in Manhattan that he worked at for years,” Mr. Barrington said. “Their key was repeat business, and that’s what he emphasizes here. The best client is the client you have on board, so make sure you take care of him.”

Just the Facts

Title: Executive VP, advertising sales, Twentieth Television

How long in current position: Since 1990

Year of birth: 1950

Place of birth: New York

Who knew? Mr. Cesa is a true technophile, often one of the first to pick up newly marketed gadgets.