PHD’s L.A. Woman

Feb 21, 2007  •  Post A Comment

Susan Taylor is back in Los Angeles as managing director of the West Coast offices of PHD, and the movie business is calling.
Ms. Taylor is a fourth-generation Southern Californian. She went to UCLA, like her grandmother and her parents. She even wrote some bad screenplays that, mercifully, were never produced. “Thank God no one can go find them in one of the Blockbusters, because I think it would be highly embarrassing,” she said.
One was called “Psycho Boss, or Why Do You Think They Call It Work”—a title with which she hopes her staff never really identifies.
Now, after a stint in New York, she’s hoping she and the agency can win a film account. “My first love is the movie business, and it’s so fun to be back in a town where everyone’s abuzz with it.”
New business-especially movie business-is one of her top priorities on the new job. PHD already has the Discovery Communications and HBO accounts in New York, and a studio would be a good fit. In fact, the agency has already hired some staffers with movie marketing experience.
Also on her agenda are making sure the cultures of PHD’s offices in L.A. and San Francisco reflect the agency’s new “idea” culture being developed in New York and introducing PHD to the creative agencies that are also part of parent company Omnicom. “They should know who we are and what we stand for,” so that when the occasion arises they can work together to serve a client.
That wasn’t the kind of diplomacy she had in mind growing up. Her early ambition was to get into the Foreign Service and become the first female ambassador to China. That goal was “very precise and obscure and probably not obtainable, but it sounded really good,” she said. She got a tutor to teach her Chinese, but she was more interested in hearing about her tutor’s life than learning the language. “This was probably not my discipline,” she said.
Instead, she got into advertising. Her boyfriend’s father was in the advertising business and arranged an interview, and she landed a job in the media department at the L.A. office of Doyle Dane Bernbach, a firm renowned for its creative department.
As it happened, she started on a movie account. The agency worked with 20th Century Fox, but soon switched to Universal Pictures, which is still a client. She attended a screening of “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” and she was hooked.
“The movie business was sort of an anomaly because it was only media, and everything at DDB was all about the creative, so a lot of the young people didn’t want to get involved with it,” Taylor said. “But I was crazy about the film business, so I was able to rise very quickly in DDB and ran that business for a while.”
When one of the clients left Universal to work for Orion Pictures, she went with him and they launched “The Terminator,” “Amadeus” and “The Silence of the Lambs” before leaving.
She moved to Serino Coyne, a New York agency well known for marketing Broadway shows that was acquired by Omnicom in 2003. She worked on opening “The Lion King” in Los Angeles and San Francisco and “Mamma Mia!” in Toronto and Las Vegas. She was working on “Jersey Boys” when she decided to move to PHD, which handled media buying for Serino Coyne.
When she’s not at work, she’s simply enjoying being back in L.A. She likes walks on the beach and hikes in the mountains. She’s also a wicked football fan—go Tampa Bay Bucs—who doesn’t miss an office pool. Her husband is an entrepreneur who recently sold a company, making it easy for him to move to L.A. They’re looking for a new dog as they celebrate their third anniversary.
Who Knew: As a child, Ms. Taylor appeared on Art Linkletter’s “House Party” and embarrassed the host. She was crazy about horses, and Mr. Linkletter asked her what she would like to invent. She said she would invent a mechanical horse and he asked why. She said she wanted to keep her horse in the house and a mechanical horse wouldn’t poop everywhere. “I said ‘poop’ on the air,” she said, her place in the on-camera side of television history secure.


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