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Geraci Emerges After Lifetime at OMD

Apr 23, 2008  •  Post A Comment

Being the No. 2 national broadcast buyer at OMD meant that instead of tending to management and administrative chores, Chris Geraci had time to spend with the agency’s emerging-media experts.
Now, with Debbie Richman’s March departure from the agency to become head of sales for Lifetime, Mr. Geraci has moved up to managing director of national broadcast investment, and his life changed in some ways.
“I won’t be able to get out of the new-business stuff as easily as I once did,” Mr. Geraci joked.
Other managerial responsibilities are likely to follow.
Mr. Geraci said he’s not sure if he’ll be able to remain part of the agency’s Next committee, which oversees emerging media, but his work with the group, headed by Jeff Minsky, was good for him and the agency.
“Certainly after doing this for so many years, it’s nice to be on the cutting edge again and learning about new technology,” Mr. Geraci said. “I would think more and more we’re doing things outside of traditional television in a group that is primarily concerned with traditional TV. But we’re pretty open-minded about what that means, and we’re more interested in following the content regardless of where it is and doing the things that make sense for our clients regardless of the platform.”
Mr. Geraci recently instituted a structural change in the agency, creating three regionalized buying groups that report to him. He has named heads for two of the groups and is looking for the third. The groups are set up geographically, serving clients in the East, Midwest and West, to line up with the way the agency’s strategists are organized.
The object is to make sure buyers understand the clients’ business, regardless of what media they tend to buy.
“The partnerships between strategists and the negotiators develop much more nicely this way,” Mr. Geraci said.
Otherwise, he said OMD is in good shape as it heads into the upfront ad-buying market.
“I think we’re known as an organization that’s pretty nimble in the marketplace, that’s organized well,” he said.
One area he doesn’t plan to change is the agency’s portal system, which assigned one senior-level manager to each media vendor.
The arrangement makes media sellers comfortable that they’ve got a voice inside the agency and senior-level attention paid to them, Mr. Geraci said.
At the same time, because there’s a senior executive responsible for negotiating all OMD client deals with that vendor, “when it comes to leveraging the dollars together and getting the most bang for the buck, it’s really good at that.”
Mr. Geraci didn’t want to discuss the agency’s strategy in approaching the upfront, but noted,
“We are in a somewhat different environment” than the industry was in just a month ago.
“Just the macro-economic factors are tempering the conversations to some degree,” he said. “Everybody is realizing that there’s some big issues out there. That may be reflected in the tone of the marketplace. That perhaps wasn’t the case when you look at what was going on in first-quarter scatter.”
Mr. Geraci originally wanted to be an architect as he grew up on New York’s Staten Island.
“I’m still fascinated with design and construction,” he said.
His dad was a high school principal who also taught a college advertising course. His dad didn’t have any agency experience, but he subscribed to Advertising Age. Mr. Geraci began reading the trade publication and grew interested in the industry.
At Pace University, some of Mr. Geraci’s teachers were in the advertising business, and that gave him great contacts as he tried to find a place on Madison Avenue.
Mr. Geraci landed his first job at BBDO as an assistant buyer, starting at the bottom. He rose through the ranks as BBDO’s media department became part of OMD and, after 20 years, has climbed to the top rung as a buyer.
When he’s not at work, Mr. Geraci likes to ski and cycle. He also likes to read and is in the middle of “Lush Life” by Richard Price.
“Of course I love watching television,” he said. “My first love was probably TV before it was advertising, so this is a nice mix of the two.” One show he particularly likes is ABC’s “Lost.”
Mr. Geraci has three children, two girls, ages 11 and 8, and a 6-year-old son.
“They love what I do. They love getting to see shows before they get on the air,” he said. Sometimes he’ll ask the kids their opinion of shows, particularly if they’re aimed at youngsters.
“Every now and then, I tell them I should go into banking,” Mr. Geraci said. “They tell me, ‘You can’t have a boring job, Dad.’”
Who knew: Mr. Geraci describes himself as an avid investigator of the UFO phenomenon. He may even have seen a UFO, though not lately. “I definitely think there’s intelligent life out there,” he said.

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