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Warren Produces Results

Dec 6, 2006  •  Post A Comment

In the year and a half that Ray Warren has been president of Carat USA and Carat Media Group Americas, the media-buying agency has been on a roll.
Most recently, Carat won an agency shoot-out for the $580 million Wal-Mart account and the Bravo Brands account. It also prevailed when its client Adidas’ account was combined with that of Reebok. (The agency also suffered a setback when, as expected, it lost its business from Pfizer, which was acquired by Johnson & Johnson and its account consolidated with J&J agencies.)
“I think what’s going on is Carat is getting into a lot of reviews and doing very well in them,” Mr. Warren said. “Consultants know that the clients hear that, and I think they know that we have a pretty robust offering as it relates to how to reach consumers in this day and age.”
He also thinks it’s an asset that Carat is independent and not tied to any particular agency on the creative side of the business, as is the high level of satisfaction of Carat clients.
“I think we’ve just got a lot of good things going in the right direction,” he said.
Somewhat modestly, Mr. Warren downplayed his role, saying that he learned from Dan Burke and Tom Murphy of Capital Cities/ABC the importance of “hiring good people and letting them do their jobs.”
He likened his own role to that of an executive producer. “I’m not writing the media plan, I may not be doing the network buy, but I’m looking at all of that and involved where necessary, but more importantly, it’s putting the right people in the job, or on the stage, if you will, really taking a bit of a back seat to them actually,” he said. “I’m there in the presentation, in the meetings, but I’m really letting the talent of Carat really bubble up.”
In those new business meetings, the pitch team is mostly the team that will actually work on the account if Carat wins the business.
With Wal-Mart, the key client was Julie Roehm, the recently departed senior VP of marketing communications. Ms. Roehm was well known for her controversial proposal to turn the current Byzantine upfront process, with its secret pricing and late-night deals, into something like the NASDAQ automated stock market. She later become a key backer of the electronic ad auction system that will be tested next year.
Mr. Warren said one thing Ms. Roehm might have liked about Carat is that its leadership, including himself and CEO David Verklin, are both open to change.
“I’m always open to the idea that there’s no set way to do things, and there’s nothing that says ‘This is the way we’ve always done it, this is the way we should always do it.’ I think she appreciated that approach,” he said.
Mr. Warren grew up in New York wanting to be in media, radio in particular. “I wanted Dave Herman’s job,” he said, referring to WNEW-FM’s famous morning disk jockey.
To get there, he decided to go to a college that didn’t have a radio station and went to York College in Jamaica, Queens. He and a friend circulated petitions to convince the administration to build a new radio station.
“Guess who did the morning show,” Mr. Warren said. “But then I found I did not have a voice that would ever make it in New York and I decided to do something else.”
He got a job as a network radio planner and buyer at the Ted Bates ad agency working on the Warner-Lambert account. “That was cool because here I was evaluating all of this hip programming” for brands like Dentyne and Certs.
He started buying TV when he moved over to BBDO, then he went to Benton & Bowles, working for Irwin Gotlieb and Marc Goldstein on the Procter & Gamble and General Foods business.
Mr. Warren then joined ABC, where he rose to VP of sales. He left ABC to start Raycom Sports, which was sold in 2003.
After toiling on a start-up, Mr. Warren wanted to return to a big company and be back on the media map. He joined OMD, then last year moved to Carat, where he’s back in the mix.
On weekends, Mr. Warren likes to hang out with his kids, Alison, 21, Gregory, 18, and Michael, 15. “I’m in the perfect place. I’ve got about as much time for them as they’ve got for me,” he said.
After working his way through high school and college as a good cook, he still enjoys making meals on weekends and also still likes music, spending a lot of time downloading from iTunes.
Who knew?
“If I wasn’t working in this business, I’d be peeling shrimp in Key West,” the opposite of the high-octane world of media, Mr. Warren said. “I’d be just as happy having a beer and peeling some shrimp and doing the Margaritaville story.”
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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