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Swift Earns PHD

Nov 29, 2006  •  Post A Comment

Advertising was a family business for John Swift, who last month moved to PHD U.S. as managing director in charge of all buying activity from OMD.
When Mr. Swift was growing up, his father was in the pharmaceutical advertising business. “I didn’t really quite understand what my dad did when I was growing up, but I knew he really liked it and it seemed like he was really good at it, and I think coming to work every day and being happy about it is as important as anything else you can strive for,” he said.
When he was a little older, his father urged him to go into account management, but Mr. Swift found media more interesting. During his college years at Villanova, he did two internships with BBDO’s national television group and was hooked, putting his other career options-teaching and coaching or sports writing-on hold.
“I remember as an intern I was working till midnight every night during the upfront and I just really liked it,” he said. “I like the entertainment side of the business. I like evaluating programming. I like thinking about which shows were good shows. I like thinking about which shows would be the right environments for client messages.”
At PHD, Mr. Swift will be doing more than broadcast, which was his specialty at BBDO. He now oversees all buying, including online, print, outdoor and radio. “This gives me a broader role,” he said. “Just the way our business is changing and evolving, I think the opportunity to think about how things need to be integrated, the way media is being sold and delivered is also converging as well.”
After his internship, BBDO offered Mr. Swift a job buying and planning for Pepsi. At BBDO he worked for Steve Grubbs, now chairman and CEO at PHD.
Mr. Swift left BBDO after about 10 years to join NBC, selling ad time in sports and Olympics coverage. He returned to BBDO’s media department as it was being rolled up into OMD and ran the PepsiCo business.
He was looking for his next career move when the opportunity arose at PHD, which like OMD is part of the Omnicom Media Group. He said he had noticed that PHD was getting good buzz. Unlike OMD, which was created from ad agency media departments, PHD was started as a media shop, which means that strategic planning is an ingrained part of its culture. “I’ve been pretty impressed with what I’ve seen thus far, just in terms of some of the insights on a couple of pieces of work I’ve been exposed to,” he said.
Mr. Swift was also impressed with another part of the PHD culture. He met with David Pattison, the “P” in PHD, and Mr. Pattison told him, “We are a nice company with nice people and that’s really what we’re about.” Mr. Swift said that stuck with him. “It sounds really simple but you can see it here. There’s a culture here and everybody seems to play well together.”
Mr. Swift is married and has three children, Meghan, 7, John, 6, and Katie, 4. He says his wife at home works harder than he does. He likes to spend weekends at home with the kids, taking them to soccer and t-ball games. Soon, they’ll be playing basketball. “I played in high school, so I’m excited about that.”
He also enjoys cooking family dinner from time to time, especially when he can barbecue. That used to be little tricky because his wife is a vegetarian. But it turned out “The kids are definitely carnivores, so I can actually cook things.”
Mr. Swift is a director of Do Something, an organization started by actor Andrew Shue that encourages young people to do something positive. The group responded to the 2005 tsunami by starting a network of lemonade stands that raised $100,000 toward relief efforts. He became aware of Do Something at a dinner where a Pepsi client was honored. Now he would like to take his kids to one of the group’s dinners. “I want my children to see that you can make a difference in the world.”
Who knew?
After leaving college, Mr. Swift moved to Australia all by himself for four months to take an internship in account management with an ad agency there. He almost stayed, but decided he was too far from friends and family. He said it was a completely life-changing experience. “It taught me a lot of independence. It got me more comfortable with who I was and just gave me a lot of confidence,” he said. “I felt like a different person when I came back.”
This article is part of TVWeek.com’s Media Planner newsletter, a weekly source of breaking news, trend articles, profiles and data about media planning edited by Senior Editor Jon Lafayette.

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