MediaVest’s Warren at Home in the U.S.

Nov 19, 2008  •  Post A Comment

British-born world traveler Joe Warren is settling down at MediaVest USA to run the North American Kraft agency-of-record account as senior VP.
Mr. Warren joins MediaVest from Universal McCann, where his last assignment was working on the global and high-tech Intel account. Though Intel’s very different from Kraft, he expects to use many of the things he learned on the chipmaker’s business to help the food giant.
“I think they [Kraft] are incredibly driven to step up and leapfrog the competition at the moment and be seen as a leading marketing company,” Mr. Warren said.
Kraft is trying new approaches to focus on the consumer. It is developing cohort teams to drive insights and creating teams that work around consumer experiences.
“They’re really trying to move the game forward and stop thinking so much about ad impressions and driving toward consumer experiences, brand experiences, and that’s an exciting opportunity,” Mr. Warren said. “I think as a strong media partner we can get them there and deliver on a lot of these things and be very successful doing it.”
Another plus on the account is that MediaVest CEO Bill Tucker used to work on the brand and still has strong contacts with the company.
“Any time you get the opportunity to work at a big agency and get to work side by side or closely with the CEO, that’s a good thing. You want to grab those positions if you can get them,” he said.
He’ll be doing less traveling, of course, which means less time flying internationally.
“That is a big downside for me. I do enjoy the frequent flier miles,” he admitted.
Mr. Warren comes from a small town an hour and a half northwest of London called Tring, which he describes as quite rural, with people raising sheep on five- or six-acre plots.
He decided to get into the advertising business because it seemed glamorous at the time.
“All the advertising guys were making big money and driving Porsches and I thought, ‘That’s for me,’” he said.
His first job was selling ad time for HTV, a television network with a monopoly on commercial broadcasting in Wales. The downside was not many advertisers wanted to reach Welsh viewers.
“We used to joke that we were specialists in beer and sheep dip,” he said.
But Mr. Warren didn’t care much for his first taste of the business.
“I hated advertising and felt it was far too much pressure,” he recalled. “So I sold my car, put everything I had in a backpack and went off for two years to travel around.”
Unfortunately, six months later Mr. Warren ran out of the money he thought would last him two years. He was in Australia and needed a job, and the only experience he had was selling ad space. He landed a job in Sydney with Merchant & Partners, an independent media agency.
He parlayed his experience there into a better job at J. Walter Thompson and was assigned to the Unilever account. That meant someone else would pay for the rest of his travels around the world.
While in Australia he met an American woman, also working in the ad business, who later became his wife. They decided to move to the U.S. because she wanted to live closer to family.
“Basically the deal we struck was we would do some expat time in Asia-Pacific and then they would move us to the U.S.,” he explained.
After stints in Bangkok and Vietnam, the agency promised a posting in either New York or San Francisco. But when the time came, Mr. Warren was sent to Detroit, where he worked on the global Ford account and the domestic Domino’s Pizza business, which taught him a lot about American media.
“There was a lot of travel and a lot of discussions about local-market media, TV newspapers, radio and all those promotions Domino’s Pizza does,” he said. And there was the challenge of “trying to sell it to a tough audience in the franchisees, who are pulling money out of the bottom of the till to pay this advertising guy.”
JWT later moved Mr. Warren to New York to work on the global Kodak account, and he’s been New York-based ever since.
Now he and his wife live in Bernardsville, N.J., with their 10-year-old daughter and 8-year-old son.
For fun, Mr. Warren tends to a garden of flowers and bushes.
“There’s a small corner of the garden that looks fantastic. And the rest of it is a shambles,” he said.
He also spends time at home shuttling the kids to and from sporting events.
“It’s eye-opening to me that the expectation is that the parent will go along to every one of their kid’s games, and so many parents do,” he said. “I think if this was the U.K., the parents would have rented buses and be sending the kids off to play their games and give everybody else a little bit of time off.”
Meanwhile, his wife continues to work as media director in a three-person agency with two friends, working from her Apple computer at the kitchen table.
If he left MediaVest, Mr. Warren said, he doubts he could get a job with his wife.
“I don’t think I would pass the interview process,” he said.
Who Knew: Mr. Warren love motorbikes, but he doesn’t own one now. “What most people don’t know is that I’ve literally bought every motorbike magazine out there from the age of 17 till now. And I’ve spent way more money on motorcycle magazines than I’ve ever spent on motorbikes,” he said. “People assume I’m riding them and having a great time, and actually it’s just daydreaming and reading about them, which is quite sad.”


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