Checking in With Past Honorees

Mar 1, 2009  •  Post A Comment

The historic presidential election, the economic downturn, the changing face of media—a lot went down in 2008. The changes wrought by those and other events are reflected in our update on some past TelevisionWeek Media Buyer of the Year honorees going back to the dawn of the new millennium. Correspondent Allison J. Waldman caught up with those outstanding ad pros and asked them reflect on what’s happening now, not only to them but to the industry at large.
John Muszynski, CEO, Starcom USA
2000 Media Buyer of the Year (National)
From the start, John Muszynski, TelevisionWeek’s first national Media Buyer of the Year in 2000, has played a vital role in driving Starcom USA’s early embrace of digital media, advocating investment of client dollars in broadband video contact and supporting development of the agency’s video activation group.
“Since I took on the role of Starcom CEO in 2005, there have been a number of exciting developments in the world of activation and investment, all of which I still watch with a keen eye,” Mr. Musyznski said. “The increased consolidation of sellers, the shift toward a 365-day-a-year, real-time market and the increased ability of TV to address marketers’ specific objectives mean new opportunities on which we continue to capitalize.”
During his career, Mr. Musynzski has mastered every role, rising from media planner working on McDonald’s and Kellogg accounts though the ranks to media director, vice president and now CEO. That experience makes him uniquely qualified to assess the current state of the media and what will happen in the years ahead. “The current economic climate and the changing priorities of hesitant, risk-averse marketers all point to the need for a renewed focus on accountability, from all sides,” he said.
“In a high-speed market where every penny counts, and where we can increasingly show how effectively every penny works, we’ll see an increased need for flexibility, contingency options, new partnership dynamics and the application of precision metrics,” he said. “In short, we’re all in a race to prove our value because marketers deserve and demand that proof.”
Howard Nass, President, Howard Nass Media Services
2000 Media Buyer of the Year (Local)
After years as a full-time media buyer, Howard Nass has firmly established himself as an independent agent. “I thought there was a better way to go instead of competing with the big media service companies. This way I can be more of a consultant. What I do is work for large clients and review their media plans and media buys. That’s where my energy has been for the last 12 months.”
Looking at the current landscape, Mr. Nass cites alternative media as the No. 1 difference. “No. 2 is the fractionalization of your target. It’s harder and harder to reach a particular target because they’re everywhere. You used to be able to make a media buy of a network TV show and you could get a 10, 12, 14 rating, which was then 10%, 12%, 14% of the population. No longer. Now you have to buy five or six television shows in the area of broadcast to reach that target.”
Mr. Nass predicts more flux in the years to come. “The pressure on the media service companies, the media buying departments, will be more intense and competitive than ever. We’re going to see a lot of media fall by the wayside. There’ll be a lot of consolidation. I wouldn’t be surprised if Comcast made another run at ABC. We’re going to see pure major media conglomerates owning more and more properties, putting a lot of pressure on the buyer, assuming that the economy goes back to normal. Companies will be selling across media even more than they do now.”
Mel Berning, Executive VP, National Ad Sales, A&E Television Networks
2001 Media Buyer of the Year (National)
Not long after being named TelevisionWeek Media Buyer of the Year, Mel Berning joined AETN. “I’ve been at A&E a little over five years now. To a large degree the issues are the same as when I was named Buyer of the Year,” said Mr. Berning. “The number of options is greater, but in terms of networks, cable and broadcast, there are the same issues and opportunities, it’s just that in the time since then, cable has become a more formidable competitor. There’s more original programming and it has higher audience levels. There’s a great differential in the cost between broadcast and cable. And certainly since then, digital has emerged, online and mobile platforms.
“There are a lot of opportunities that you can take in that kind of environment that you can’t in broadcasting,” said Mr. Berning. “The scale of the numbers makes it easier for advertisers to come in and try to do some new things, to experiment a bit. The barrier on the cost of entry is a little lower. You have a little more flexibility in terms of working with the programming, working with the people who develop the content.”
Looking at the current media landscape, he said, “I think the economic model works better now on cable. On an hourly basis, there’s more scripted drama on cable than there is on broadcast, and it’s been an extremely successful way for cable programmers to offer high-quality programming and give advertisers the kinds of environment, integration opportunities, that they’re looking for.”
Five years from now, Mr. Berning sees the gap between cable and broadcast becoming more recognizable. “Television isn’t going away. Broadcast nets aren’t going away. Cable nets certainly aren’t going away…. I think there will be greater and greater convergence in terms of broadcast, cable and online so that it becomes less important how content is delivered, but what will still be exactly the same is that the best content will win the day.”
Cathleen Campe, Senior VP/Director of Media Communications, Broadcast & Video Investment, RPA
2001 Media Buyer of the Year (Local)
While Cathleen Campe has remained an integral part of Rubin Postaer & Associates, her duties have expanded. “I am wearing some additional ‘new hats.’ One is that I now oversee all broadcast groups—national, local and direct response. Another new hat is representing the investment part of RPA’s three-member Office of Media Communications, which heads up the RPA media organization. This group is reflective of RPA’s philosophy of true integration—strategy, creative and media—and collaboration as essential for effective media plans and executions.”
The current economic climate affects Ms. Campe’s work more than almost any other factor. “Can you think of a relationship that is more impacted by the economy than that of buyers and sellers? But our feeling is that the tougher the economy, the more valuable it is to maintain our longstanding mutually respectful relationships with the media community—networks, stations, media ownership groups.
“Our top priority remains, get the most for our clients’ investment—not by trouncing the media, but working together to create value and opportunities. We have active procedures in place so we can take advantage of great pricing in the scatter market, but protect our upfront clients as well. This way, we can constantly optimize to be able to take advantage of opportunities as they present themselves,” she said.
Looking at the industry as a whole, Ms. Campe said, “The greatest challenges that we face are in the arena of measurement, metrics, and currency. How do we reconcile advanced metrics with outdated currency? How will the push to move local television to CPMs impact negotiations? How does messaging via on-air, online and digital channels accumulate to advance consumers’ mindset and actions?
“Television viewing is at record levels, and C3 viewing actually equals or slightly surpasses live viewing. It appears that many viewers are choosing to spend time with their favorite programs, and view the commercial messages. Still, television has the onus to continually prove that it is effective. Online media does this now, but we all crave a better understanding of how media work together to influence, not just within a media.
“The best deals for us and for our clients come when we go beyond placing spots in programs,” said Ms. Campe. “On a local basis, we’ve negotiated deals with the NBC O&O group for an extensive Election Night package (on-air, online, mobile) for the Acura TL, and with CBS Radio Group on an upcoming cross-media launch effort (local radio, online, promotion, on-air talent testimonials, Yahoo/AOL streaming). In both examples, our client was aligned with the content as organically as possible.” Ms. Campe was behind RPA’s promo spots for the Honda Fit that saw the car integrated with the season premiere of NBC’s “30 Rock” and The CW’s fall programming lineup.
Peter Olsen, Senior VP, National Ad Sales, A&E Television Networks
2003 Media Buyer of the Year
It’s been five years since Peter Olsen was named TelevisionWeek Media Buyer of the Year. He is in his fourth year at AETN, overseeing the A&E and Biography channels.
From his perspective, the cable business has fared well despite the challenging economy. “The value of A&E, the quality of programming and relative efficiency, is shining through as advertisers are scrutinizing their advertising outlays to an increasing degree,” he said.
Still, Mr. Olsen expects the future will be rocky due to the changing climate. “We are faced with difficulty in predicting how clients will react to their challenges in these trying times. That’s one particular issue in a business that has had the benefit of acting on long-term trends. Thus far in 2009, clients are maintaining their cable spend as they are seeing overall ad budgets reduced.”
Mr. Olsen points to A&E’s move into scripted programming as a plus. “Much of A&E’s recent success has involved our new original dramas, ‘The Cleaner’ and ‘The Beast.’ Several clients have integrated into storylines as they continue to look to cable as a source of quality scripted and unscripted fare.”
Donna Speciale, President of Investment and Activation, MediaVest USA
2006 Media Buyer of the Year
In just a couple of years since being honored by TelevisionWeek, Donna Speciale has seen a lot of change in her position at MediaVest USA. “I am now responsible for all the investment teams within MediaVest: national and local TV and radio, print, [out-of-home] and digital,” she said. “This enables MediaVest to have a holistic view in the marketplace and look at the consumer more than the media. We have a more fluid approach for our clients and an unsoiled buying model.”
Since joining MediaVest in 2004, Ms. Speciale has led an internal charge to align buying resources against two pillars: innovation and strategy.
Even in these difficult financial times, her goal is to turn the challenge into opportunity. “The economic climate is challenging for clients, the agencies and the vendors and partners we all do business with. There really isn’t anyone that isn’t affected, but we have had down years before, for example after 9/11, airlines, travel, etc. We are all living in the unknown, but we need to find opportunities that work.”
Recently, Ms. Speciale has led networks into uncharted territory, such as “CW Now,” a show that MediaVest purchased outright from The CW for a variety of its clients and created completely different messaging within the show. No traditional commercial lengths were utilized.
Tim Spengler, President, Initiative USA
2007 Media Buyer of the Year
TelevisionWeek’s 2007 Media Buyer of the Year, Tim Spengler, was named president of Initiative USA just a year ago. The company’s mission is to become a media, marketing and digital agency that transforms media connections into marketing results.
An executive who is known for being innovative—he was part of the team behind the implementation of Initiative’s “Pod Puncher,” five-second spots that air at the end of commercial breaks with the goal of circumventing DVR users’ ability to avoid ads—Mr. Spengler continues to push the envelope.
“We launched the amphibian unit, a new digital/traditional media hybrid, staffed by young adepts skilled in both,” said Mr. Spengler. He also won MillerCoors’ business and was named chairman of the MC Media division created to serve the beverage giant.
Coinciding with Mr. Spengler’s promotion, Initiative has been named Advertising Age and Adweek media agency of the year.
Heading into 2009 and beyond, Mr. Spengler hopes to continue Initiative’s winning streak. “We are looking at these trying times as an opportunity to question everything, but importantly as an opportunity to innovate as well. And we have expectations about what the cost of media should be going forward. Challenges are doing more with less. The upside is, in an increasingly digital world, we have the ability to make more effective decisions for our clients.”


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