Woerz Tunes Up Plans for Networks

May 7, 2008  •  Post A Comment

Craig Woerz has always gravitated toward the entertainment industry.
For 15 years, he toured with his band, New Brown Hat, after work and on weekends. The band had some success, playing with such major acts as Neil Young and Blues Traveler, and managed to sell 20,000 CDs.
His day job was with Tele-Communications Inc. in Connecticut, working in the sales group. His key client was Blockbuster, so it was his job to help get movies sold or rented.
Eventually, he gave up the band life to have a family life with his wife.
In 2001, Mr. Woerz was at Time Warner when he and a co-worker, Tim Williams, decided to launch a media agency focused on entertainment clients.
They called it Mediastorm and today it has offices in Manhattan and South Norwalk, Conn., and a long list of entertainment clients, particularly cable networks.
On the list are HGTV, Food Network, the Weather Channel, FX, Speed, NFL Network, truTV, In Demand, WE tv, DIY Networks, Fine Living, Magnolia Films, Fox VOD and Fox Broadcasting.
Mediastorm does media buying and planning, employing everything from street teams to network television, Mr. Woerz said.
“Because our clients are primarily entertainment, we’re forced to look at the landscape a little more definitively than other marketers and agencies, because it really is our business to know it and break through it,” he said.
Often that means seeking an edge for a client by pushing the envelope in the digital space. For example, Mediastorm is involved with interactive tests with Time Warner and Comcast.
“Depending on the show that we’re promoting or the opportunity we’re promoting, we will use it more aggressively than other agencies, I’m told, but we will also balance it out with traditional elements,” Mr. Woerz said.
Digital’s nice, but TV remains of paramount importance. “TV continues to sell TV,” he said.
Mediastorm has recently started to get into the creative end of the agency business, last year setting up a subsidiary called Maude that’s headed by Marc Klatzo, Mediastorm’s director of marketing and creative and a Showtime veteran.
That will allow the agency to be even more involved in the communications strategies it develops for its clients, he said.
Mr. Woerz landed in the marketing business after his graduation from Trinity College in Hartford, Conn.
At TCI, Mr. Woerz’s customers had small budgets, which encouraged him to be more willing to take risks and to talk straight to clients, rather than just saying yes all the time.
“Too many agencies these days just say, ‘The client wanted it,’ and you end with a puu-puu platter of a media plan,” he said.
He later worked at Cablevision and Time Warner before striking out on his own.
Working and playing in the band left little time for him and his wife to do much of anything else.
One evening, his wife said she’d like to settle down and have a family, friends and other aspects
of a normal life.
“I can remember that night,” Mr. Woerz recalls. “I came home. She was on the couch and it was a heart-to-heart discussion about the band. That combined with the fact that the singer left, left me to focus on advertising, and I’m happy it worked out that way.”
Now they’ve got two kids, although business occasionally intrudes, with calls from clients on the weekends.
Mr. Woerz has a little recording studio at home and he plays now and again, but he says he’s got no other hobbies.
“I live my life in a focused way,” he said. “I think down the road, I’d like to travel a little more. But for us it’s about continuing to keep the momentum going.”
Who knew? While heading up to visit a client in Manhattan whose office was on the 18th floor, the elevator in which Mr. Woerz was riding dropped 15 floors. It stopped somewhere around the fifth floor. “Lights were out and everything. The speed was crazy, although not fast enough for my feet to come off the ground,” he said. “Since then, I cannot do a meeting above floor 25.”


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