Comedy Vet Goes to Magna

Apr 4, 2007  •  Post A Comment

Now that Cathy Tankosic is in the media agency business, it’s not all laughs anymore. And she says that’s a good thing.
The former Comedy Central executive last month was named executive VP of Magna Global Entertainment, the branded-content unit of media buyer Magna Global. She is responsible for generating new business and matching clients with compelling projects.
Ms. Tankosic was senior VP and head of marketing and creative at Comedy Central, and most of her background is with cable networks.
“I was hired by [former Comedy Central President] Larry Divney to figure out ways to get advertisers interested in the channel,” Ms. Tankosic said. The channel was newly formed by the merger of HA! and the Comedy Channel and had just 10 million subscribers.
“It was really coming up with lots of creative solutions, because we didn’t have numbers to sell,” she said. The job turned into a career in marketing, which she enjoys because “it’s the strategic side of the business, and then you get the creative payoff.”
Her experience at Comedy Central will be useful on her new job, even if she is coming at clients’ business from a different angle. “I think my network marketing experience is a good match for what Magna Global Entertainment is trying to do, because I come at it understanding what the network needs to get from it and what the network brand stands for. But also understanding that it needs to work additionally for the client and for their brands, and also for the consumer,” she said.
“So it’s a great place to sit in the middle and work with a broader portfolio of networks and brands and genres. Everything doesn’t have to be funny here, which is exciting,” she said. Not that she’s tired of laughter. “It’s just nice to have the breadth.”
In 2005, Ms. Tankosic moved from Comedy Central to MTV Networks, where she was senior VP/head of marketing and creative for the Urge digital music store. After leaving MTV, she was a consultant with CBS and its college sports cable channel CSTV.
Joining Magna Global Entertainment reunites Ms. Tankosic with her old Comedy Central boss, Bill Hilary, who joined Magna last year.
“Cathy has a unique skill set, in that she has extensive marketing, advertising, creative management and digital experience,” Mr. Hilary said in a statement.
Ms. Tankosic hails from Pittsburgh and attended the University of Pittsburgh. She thought she wanted to be a city planner and spent two internships during college working for the city. But the professional city planners warned her that working for the government would be frustrating and urged her to choose a different career.
She took that advice and moved to New York, where her brother lived. She answered a classified ad in the New York Times and wound up in a strategic planning job at USA Network.
She moved to Financial News Network, working with the marketing and ad sales departments on ways to get advertisers interested in the programming the channel aired after the securities markets closed.
Then she moved to Comedy Central.
Ms. Tankosic has been married for about a year. She likes to travel and says she “stays sane” by doing yoga.
She recently made a visit to Korea that was actually something of a business trip for her husband, an instructor at the Columbia Business School. (“He teaches negotiations. He gives me great advice,” she said.)
Four Korean students arranged the trip, which meant going places most tourists don’t see: They visited with the president of South Korea, toured the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea and saw other cultural areas. “It was really cool,” she said.
Who Knew: Ms. Tankosic said she had a fun summer job while in college, as a cocktail waitress on the Gateway Clipper fleet of party boats that sail on the three rivers that flow through Pittsburgh. “It was funny because Pittsburgh isn’t exactly a tourist destination, but this was sort of a touristy kind of thing.”
Tipping patterns also taught her to appreciate younger demographics. “The worst night was when they would have retirees’ buffet dinners,” she said. “I only made $3 that night. Everyone wanted to drink ginger ale and wanted to know what time we were going to be eating so they knew when to take their medication.”


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