Career (and Mom-in-Law) Bring Castree to MediaVest

Jul 2, 2008  •  Post A Comment

Melbourne, Australia, native Timothy Castree, who has returned to the United States as executive VP and managing director at MediaVest, followed a time-honored strategy in deciding his latest career move.
After his last stint in the U.S., he brought his American-born wife back Down Under. Her family was willing to put up with that, but only for a short time. And after four years, they dutifully returned Stateside.
“You don’t mess with the mother-in-law,” Mr. Castree said, showing the kind of insight into behavior for which media executives strive.
At MediaVest, Mr. Castree will be responsible for two of the agency’s large clients, Mars and Wendy’s.
While Mr. Castree has spent 20 years in the advertising business as an account executive and agency manager, this is his first outing with a media agency.
“The reason I made this choice is because I see this as the cutting edge, the nexus in the relationship between consumers and the media they consume,” he said. “It’s a cliché, but it’s changing at an enormous rate, and I think this is the box seat to participate in all of that change.”
There are some adjustments to make, leading off with the differences between the Aussie media market, where 70% of the audience still is watching just the Big Three broadcasters and only 25% of the audience has cable, to the fragmented U.S. market.
“There’s a whole lot of new stuff to learn,” he said, adding that by joining a company like MediaVest he’s got good people to learn from.
“I don’t feel like I’m in a sink-or-swim situation,” he said. “I feel like I’m surrounded by people who are really going to help me succeed.”
In other ways, his task is fundamentally the same.
“It’s still largely a job that involves really understanding our clients, understanding the fundamental drivers of a client’s business, and being able to translate those into the monthly, daily, quarterly, yearly actions we take inside the businesses,” he said.
Mr. Castree also plans to use his management skills to help foster greater collaboration among his clients’ vendors, from creative agencies to PR firms.
“I think it’s more important than ever, with clients having many more partners and lots of things changing, that we get better at providing leadership around that sort of integration and have an open mindset,” he said.
Mr. Castree lived in Melbourne until he was 26. He started his advertising career at Leo Burnett, then moved on to FCB—where a funny thing happened.
One day he got it into his head that he should ask to be transferred to the United States. At the same time, Brendan Ryan, who was then running FCB in Sydney, was lamenting that the agency wasn’t doing enough to send people to its global outposts.
So two days after asking for a transfer, Mr. Castree was told to get moving. He packed up a cricket kit bag and headed to New York.
“I’d never been to New York before, and I must admit I was a little daunted, homesick and shocked for about the first three months,” he said.
From FCB, he moved to BBH in New York, where he met his wife, who was in the business at the time.
Their first date was a yoga class.
“I swore I’d never go back. I couldn’t walk for about three days” Mr. Castree said.
He’s hardly the lean, svelte yoga type, he explains; more the burly rugby type. Nevertheless, he now vacations at yoga retreats.
“She’s certainly the driving force behind my yoga obsession,” he said.
His wife hasn’t been able to push Mr. Castree—now a New York fan—into rooting for New England sports teams, however. New England teams also seem to be popular at the agency, with Patriots and Red Sox posters all over the walls, he says.
“In this place I’m surrounded by bloody New Englanders,” he says.
The Castrees are living in temporary digs in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood and braving the New York real estate market.
“My wife wants to live in Brooklyn, and I’m pretty set on Manhattan. I don’t win many arguments with my wife, but I think I might win this one,” he said.
Mr. Castree doesn’t have any children, but that might change now that they’re in the States.
“She didn’t want to have an Australian. She loves Australia, but she wanted to have an American,” he said of his wife. And with her family around, there’s a better chance a child would grow up rooting for Boston.
Who Knew: Mr. Castree says his surname is French. “A relative on my father’s side was a trusted general to Napoleon who ended up having his head lopped off for disloyalty,” he said. And as an Australian, he essentially hails from a penal colony. “I’ve had my whole life trying to prove I’m actually more faithful and loyal than my heritage might suggest,” he said.

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