Bizon Sees Opportunities in Tough Local Environment

Feb 10, 2009  •  Post A Comment

The world of local media, particularly local television, seems to have deep problems right now. But Cecilia Bizon, VP overseeing local activation at Starcom, sees promise.
To Ms. Bizon, local has the ability to be relevant at a time when marketers are looking for media that can form one-to-one relationships with consumers.
“That is what local is all about,” she says.
Of course, to get there, local media has some issues that need to be resolved.
“It’s a challenge for the stations to get outside of their mindset of 30-second and 60-second spots and to actually take all that other content and all those extensions that they have and position them for clients so that it resonates with the consumer,” she says.
Buyers and sellers also have to spend less time haggling over preemptions and make-goods.
Guarantees have to be 100% and accountability and measurement must be upgraded, she says.
Local ad revenues have been plunging for the last couple of years, but new interest may be on the way, she says.
“We’re seeing different clients come into local that haven’t been there in the past,” Ms. Bizon says. “We’re bringing opportunities to clients that are not just about the spot … opportunities for content integration or for connecting not only what we’re doing on-air but what we’re doing online or what we’re doing in the streaming landscape.”
At Starcom, Ms. Bizon created a Center for Excellence within the local activation group that is working on enhanced accountability and smarter ways to negotiate.
“We’re proponents of local,” she says. “We’re spreading the word on local internally, to our clients, as well as in the industry. We believe there are so many opportunities, but we cannot be afraid to change.”
Ms. Bizon, who grew up in the Chicago suburb of Mundelein, reluctantly admits she’s one of those people who fell into the advertising business.
One of her first jobs after she graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign was in the accounts receivable department at Chicago media buying firm CPM.
She realized media was for her and moved on to jobs at Jack Levy Associates and Tatham Euro RSCG.
“I received some great local training at both agencies,” she says, then interviewed with Kevin Gallagher, who runs local broadcast at Starcom; she has been with the agency ever since.
There are some in the media business who think that when it comes to buying TV, the folks in national have more fun than those on the local side.
Ms. Bizon says she’s thought about trying national, but, “Quite frankly, local is in my DNA.”
She says it may be that with local, you have a chance to get closer to the human elements of the business.
“I want to know what people are thinking, and I think that local gets there,” she says. “Every market is different; that’s what I love about it. There’s nuances you can learn about what consumers are thinking in each market, their lifestyles, and I like the creativity it brings.”
At home, Ms. Bizon and her husband have a 7-year-old daughter and a 4-year-old son.
“They keep me busy,” she says.
When she can, Ms. Bizon likes to cook, especially when she can get the kids involved. Her father was from Syria, so she cooks a lot of Middle Eastern food, partly to expose the children to her culture.
She says she’s self-taught.
“I pore over cookbooks and cooking magazines,” she says, and her dream would be to open a restaurant with her sister, her niece and eventually her daughter. She’d like to have a catering facility as well as a bakery with her restaurant.
Her favorite dish is vegetarian stuffed grape leaves, which she says is made from a secret family recipe.
Ms. Bizon also has been doing yoga for a few years. She says it fits in well with her work life: Getting into the Warrior pose is much like a negotiation.
“You have to be in tune with yourself and you’ve got to be flexible,” she says.
Who Knew: Ms. Bizon says she submitted a video to be a contestant on “The Next Food Network Star.” She hasn’t heard from the producers. “I must have missed a phone call,” she jokes. She taped herself preparing Middle Eastern meat pies, with ground lamb, lemon, yogurt, toasted pine nuts and caramelized onions. “It can be quite decadent, depending on how high-fat your meat is,” she says. “They’re going to get back to me some day.”


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