Donna Speciale, long known for her innovation as president of Turner Broadcasting Advertising Sales (now called WarnerMedia Ad Sales) for the last five years, is leaving the company in a reorg, according to a number of media reports.
The story was first broken on Wednesday by The Information. In 2007, when Speciale was on the other side of the table, working for MediaVest, she was named our TVWeek Media Buyer of the Year.
Here is the memo WarnerMedia Chief Revenue Officer Gerhard Zeiler sent to company staff about the shake-up:
The last few months have provided a real opportunity for me to dive deeply into our businesses.
In all of the conversations I had, formal or informal, it was obvious that everyone understands how much the industry is transforming and that we need to change to enable us to stay at the top and lead the industry.
After a thoughtful review, I concluded that we also need to change the leadership structure to support the transition of our ad sales business. For the time being, I will lead ad sales as interim president, working with a three-person operational team with significant experience across portions of ad sales:
Amit Chaturvedi leads Revenue Operations, Ad Innovation, Ad Product strategy, Digital Sales Planning and Digital Yield Management
Katrina Cukaj leads linear Strategic Planning, Research, Network Partnerships and Marketplace Image & Experience
Joe Hogan leads Sales including Agency, Client, Digital, Direct Response and Content Partnerships
Donna Speciale, Dan Riess and Frank Sgrizzi will be leaving the company.
First and foremost, I want to thank Donna for her leadership and dedication. Over the course of the recent seven plus years, she has invested in building out our award-winning advanced ad and storytelling capabilities for our advertising partners, transforming the way we do business today.
Also, I want to thank Dan and Frank for their commitment and important contributions in making Turner an industry leader during their long tenures at the company, 21 and 28 years respectively.
This is a significant reorganization and I understand that it is difficult to see our colleagues moving on. I thank all of them wholeheartedly for their contributions and wish them all the best for the future.
Let me take the opportunity to thank all of you once more for your patience, dedication, and focus on our everyday business during times of uncertainty.
I know that change can be challenging. But remember: Change is also an opportunity, and our ambition is big. We are strengthening our core business, driving new revenue streams, and reshaping the corporate structure – all at the same time.
None of this would be possible without your support, passion and hard work. Thank you for that!
Wrote Variety’s ad-industry expert Brian Steinberg about the shakeup, “Speciale will leave the company along with Dan Riess, an executive vice president who supervised the company’s push into new areas such as content solutions and data-based buying, and Frank Sgrizzi, an executive vice president who had a strong hand in maintaining relationships with various media agencies. Riess had been with the company for 21 years, while Sgrizzi had been an employee of 28 years’ standing.
“The move is likely to raise some eyebrows among the company’s advertisers, many of whom have counted on Speciale for years to devise unique ways for them to stand apart from rivals and create lasting connections with consumers. Before joining Turner, the TV operation that is one of the main engines of WarnerMedia’s engines, Speciale oversaw media investment at MediaVest, the former division of Publicis Groupe, and enjoyed years-long relationships with advertisers such as Procter & Gamble, Coca-Cola and Kraft Foods. Her departure wouldn’t come as a complete shock, given recent changes at WarnerMedia, said one media-buying executive, but is likely to create some confusion among clients.”
To read Steinberg’s full piece, please click here.