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The Book on Carat’s Verklin

May 16, 2007  •  Post A Comment

David Verklin, who has been busy helping to change the media landscape as CEO of Carat Americas, has found time to write a book about the subject, “Watch This, Listen Up, Click Here.”
“I’ll tell you it was a lot of work,” said Mr. Verklin, who spent 18 months on the project, writing on planes, early in the morning, on the train. “Whenever I could steal a little time,” he said.
He had a co-author, longtime advertising reporter and columnist Bernice Kanner, who died in October 2006, just after the manuscript was completed. “I never could have done it without a second writer,” Mr. Verklin said. “I’m sad she’s not here. She was so proud of it.”
He also got help from his colleagues. The outdoor department helped write the section on outdoor advertising and the digital guys helped talk about Google and Wikipedia. “Without the resources of Carat behind me, I don’t know how you write this book.”
Mr. Verklin has played a big part in changing to role of media on Madison Avenue, and “Watch This, Listen Up, Click Here” documents many of those changes, with examples and statistics on everything from television to the Internet, from newspapers to video games, from product placement to event marketing.
He also strikes some familiar themes, like the folly of the upfront television market.
A few years ago Mr. Verklin convened a group of buyers, clients and network representatives to discuss how the upfront could be changed to make it work better. There was a good discussion, but the group decided at that point, the upfront worked OK.
“Maybe I was a little ahead of my time,” he said. “I still think it’s a goofy system, but I think it’s collapsing in its own way under its own weight.”
In the book, he also sees big changes for television and expects clients to spend less advertising money on the networks and more on interactive media.
“I’m not against the TV business and I’m not predicting its demise, but what I am saying is the definition of television is changing, because what we’re seeing is video commercial persuasion that’s being delivered across a number of different platforms,” he said.
Looking ahead, the book says media will be more targeted, which will be good for consumers. “It’s this whole vision of where I believe the market is going, which is to advertise to the interested,” he said. Simply put, the idea is to put dog food ads in front of people who own dogs. “If we can do that, advertising moves from an interruption to being useful,” he said.
Mr. Verklin said the book wasn’t written for media and marketing professionals. “I wanted to write the book for your mother and for your dad,” he said. “So many agency guys have come up to me over the years and said, ‘My parents just don’t understand what I do.’” He can relate to that, he said: His own parents still ask which commercials on the air are his.
The book has been well received by people in the advertising business who don’t keep up with the media landscape, such as creative guys and brand mangers. He’s also heard from colleges looking for a way to keep their students up to date on the fast-changing subject.
“We seem to have struck a chord with the book,” he said.
Growing up, Mr. Verklin’s family wanted him to become a surgeon, like his father and brother. “I’m the black sheep of the family,” he said. Organic chemistry put an end to that idea, so Mr. Verklin went from the University of Virginia (where Katie Couric was a classmate) to Madison Avenue, where he started in the media department at Young & Rubicam.
“The plan was to do two years in the ad business, then I was going to go back to business school and go work for Goldman Sachs down on Wall Street and learn how to drive a smoky gray Porsche,” he said. But the ad business proved too much fun to walk away from.
Later, at Hal Riney & Co., he made the unusual jump from media director to managing director of the agency. That management experience was instrumental when Carat, the independent media agency, was formed.
Though he was able to squeeze in time to write the book, Mr. Verklin said he has little time for anything outside the office other than his family. He has two sons, ages 16 and 14, and a daughter, 8, who looks like her mother.
“I’ve got a beautiful set of golf clubs that are gathering dust in the corner of the garage. I’ve got a set of skis that are also equally coated with dust,” he said. He hopes when the kids get older, he’ll have time to take up golf, skiing and tennis again.
Who Knew: Mr. Verklin said he’s a big gamer who is competitive on the Xbox in Halo and Madden 2007. “As a dad, I decided I need to get into my kids’ world,” he said. He’s also into military strategy and simulation games that can be played on the PC. “I do that because I have these long plane trips and it gives me something to do,” he said. He’s fond of the game series Total War and likes to play games about Civil War battles with his kids, then take them to the actual battlefield. “It’s such an interesting learning experience,” he said. “When you bring them to the actual location, it really changes the entire experience.”

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