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Media Motion - For the Record (11/18/05)

Media Motion - For the Record (11/18/05) Roger Park

Editor's note: We list the companies and people alphabetically according to what company hires what person or another company. Our weekly column is always looking for announcements, so please email them to [email protected]

24/7 Real Media, Inc. announced the opening of a second office in Germany to meet rising demand and enhance its presence in one of Europe's fastest growing internet marketplaces. The opening of 24/7 Real Media's new office in Hamburg, Germany extends the scope of the company's broader European operations and positions the company to more aggressively grow 24/7 Germany's client base.

Accipiter Solutions has hired Lou Severine as its new director of northeast sales. Severine brings over 18 years of experience to the industry innovator and will be based in the New York City/Tri State area. Severine will help Accipiter Solutions expand its reach into alternate online advertising mediums such as eCommerce, streaming audio/video, blogging, RSS feeds and podcasting, internet on airlines, and other grassroots-based mediums.

The Ad Club, Boston announced the addition of four new members to its board of directors: Fredrick Marckini, CEO and founder of iProspect, a full-service search engine marketing firm; Julio Marenghi, president and general manager of Viacom's New England television stations CBS4 Boston (WBZ), UPN 38 Boston (WSBK) and UPN 28 (WLWC) in Providence, RI.; Joan Schneider, president and creative director of Schneider Associates, a Boston-based public relations/marketing communications firm; Margie Sullivan, executive producer at Redtree Productions, a full-service film, television and interactive production company.

Advertising.com, Inc. announced that Nada Stirratt has been named senior vice president and general manager of advertising sales. In this role, she is responsible for driving North American sales revenue generated from advertising and promotional campaigns across Advertising.com's extensive web and search platforms, as well as via the company's suite of behavioral targeting solutions.

BitPass announced that Douglas Knopper has joined the commerce platform provider BitPass as CEO. Knopper will work with portals and branded content providers to complement their online advertising activity while building customer loyalty and monetizing content. Knopper recently worked at DoubleClick as their VP and GM.

DDB Worldwide announced that Ken Kaess, president and CEO, is taking a medical leave of absence. During this leave, which is expected to be brief, Kaess remains president and CEO of the agency. While Mr. Kaess is on leave, the day-to-day operations of the company will be handled by his executive committee, co-chaired by DDB Europe President Michael Bray and DDB North America President Dick Rogers.

Mike Sheldon, president, Deutsch LA, announced two executive changes designed to strengthen the office as well as recognize their achievements. Sheldon named Colleen Kelly as partner, director of new business, Deutsch LA, shifting from partner, director of media planning. Kelly will manage West Coast new business and report to Deutsch Inc.'s SVP, Director of Business Development Mike DudaKyle Acquistapace was named SVP, media director, assuming management of all media functions for the Los Angeles office and reporting to Peter Gardiner, partner and chief media officer, Deutsch Inc.

Enlighten announced today that it had made a series of new hires to expand its online acquisition marketing capabilities: Michelle Hartmann, director of client services, brings over 20 years of experience in a wide variety of traditional and new media; Laura Detwyler, Engagement Manager, joins Enlighten from R/GA; Matt Burpee, senior data analyst, comes to Enlighten with a sterling background in software engineering and application development; Erin Kelley will be contributing her expertise as a search marketing analyst. .

PassAlong Networks, developer of innovative technologies for digital music, and Musicland Group Inc., an entertainment retailer and parent company to Sam Goody, Media Play and Suncoast Motion Picture Company stores, today announced PassAlong Networks will power Musicland's online digital music offering, GrazeMusic.com. The initiative is part of Musicland's launch of its new Graze prototype, a non-traditional retail environment, found in Sam Goody stores, that offers wireless products and the latest in digital technology and content.

Poindexter Systems, Inc. announced that Toby Gabriner has been named to the position of CEO. Gabriner brings over a decade of experience running companies in the digital marketing sector and will take over from interim CEO Nil Shah. Prior to joining Poindexter, Gabriner served as president of Carat Fusion where he was responsible for overseeing five offices, 250 employees and a stable of blue chip clients including Pfizer, adidas, RadioShack, AOL, Kodak and Phillips.

Reactrix Media Systems announced that Michael K. Powell, the former chairman of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission, has agreed to serve as a senior advisor to the company. He joins other technology and media industry luminaries, including Guy Kawasaki, Alex Yemenidjian, Carl Rosendahl, Andy Rubin, Carlos Collazo, Jerry Gramaglia and Kip Knight, who all currently serve on the Reactrix Advisory Board. Mr. Powell will help advise the company as it deploys and expands the first reactive media network, a new way for advertisers to reach and influence millions of consumers in high-traffic malls, theatres, retail stores and other public venues.

Smashing Ideas, an entertainment and marketing services studio that creates immersive, interactive content for all screens, has named respected media and entertainment executive Sandy Climan and journalism and digital media innovator Merrill Brown to the Board of Directors, effective immediately.

Yahoo's "I hate telecommuting" blunder

When the CEO of Yahoo, Marissa Mayer, decided to put an end to telecommuting options employees had been enjoying for quite some time -- and with no real reasoning behind it -- it made headlines. In fact, it continues to make headlines. Since then, she's flip flopped back and forth (in other words, Yahoo telecommuting is making a comeback). However, beyond making Yahoo look like it was a kill joy for no real reason, Mayer was also making a statement on women in power.

(Hopefully Mayer's not working remotely in this candid shot.)

You can find studies for or against telecommuting, but there's only one reality: If it works for a specific company or employee, it works -- period. There are many irrefutable upsides to telecommuting, such as lightening your carbon footprint with zero commutes, lower overhead, and more flex time for workers who have lives outside the office. In an era where virtual offices are becoming the norm, Mayer's seemingly rash decision and lack of reasoning to back it up looked like a stunt, power move, or both.

J.C. Penney goes penny-pinching

By 2010, the big shots at J.C. Penney had realized their sales were seriously down, earnings were tanking, and something needed to be done -- fast. New management was surely the key, which is why Ron Johnson of Apple was brought on. He was backed by Bill Ackman, a powerful hedge fund manager who just happened to be the biggest shareholder J.C. Penney had. With Johnson at the wheel, a new strategy emerged that was meant to make J.C. Penney the leader in brand name products at a value-driven price. This meant nixing faux sales and discounts retailers are known for.

(Those red sales signs are irresistible…even if the savings are artificial.)

Even though artificial discounts are relatively easy to see through and gimmicky, you can't deny that people love them. There's a rush that comes with thinking you scored a bargain. J.C. Penney customers were knee-deep in bargain hunting madness -- it didn't matter that they knew the company would mark up prices before "discounting" them. In three years, the losses worsened and shrank from almost $18 billion per year to $13 billion under Johnson.

Add in the fact that Johnson did zero market testing to even see if J.C. Penney shoppers wanted more transparency, and it was a marketing disaster.

You can ring Ma Bell

Here's a great historical example of a CEO's floundering: Back in 1876, Western Union was the premier communications organization in the U.S. It was managed by Vanderbilt and was available in almost every state. There were thousands of miles of wiring around the country, and Western Union was easily the biggest private company in America. Meanwhile, Alexander Graham Bell had just invented the telephone -- as well as the patents.

(Bell is proof that CEOs should never underestimate the power of an inventive mind.)

Bell was no businessman, and it seems neither were the people who were trying to support him. Bell Telephone Co. asked if Western Union wanted the patents for the princely (at the time) sum of $100,000. William Orlon, president of Western Union, scoffed at the idea. Some say this was the worst move ever made by a CEO, and years later Orlon agreed. Instead, Western Union made a promise to never contest Bell's patents and in return they got a decent royalty for every phone Bell leased. Ma Bell eventually led to the demise of Western Union as the key communicator in the U.S.

It was an early example of how technology requires an eye for innovation and the right relationships.

Fly like a G6

In late 2008, America was on the edge of what was about to become the Great Recession, but some industries were already knee-deep in trouble -- mainly, the auto industry. Ford Motor was ready to collapse, GM and Chrysler were almost belly up, and Toyota put expansion plans to a screeching halt. The CEOs decided to ask Congress to bail them out, with a group of them heading to a hearing to beg for $25 billion in taxpayer money to pull them out of this mess. They'd already laid off thousands of workers and closed several plants, so this was a last ditch effort.

(Literally high flying CEOs make headlines.)

Beyond having the gall to ask for billions of dollars from their very own customers, they also had the nerve to take private company jets to D.C. for the meeting. It was obviously the fastest way to get there and there were genuine threats of kidnappings, but it reeked of greed. The President of the Citizens Against Government Waste, Tom Schatz, says, "To come to Washington on a corporate jet, and asking for a handout, is outrageous." For each CEO, the cost to take the trip was around $20,000 compared to a $300 ticket flying coach.

At first, Congress said "no," but when the CEOs tried again after waiting a few weeks (and drove in hybrids), a little short term cash was doled out which eventually snowballed into a bailout. However, their marketing teams had to work overtime to cover up this PR flub (assuming, of course, the marketing team hadn't been laid off).

Was this a good deal? They should have Googled it

Remember when Excite was the top search engine? Neither does anyone else. However, back in 1999, Google was just a tiny startup and Excite dominated the search engine industry. Larry Page and Sergey Brin, the founders of Google, were getting great feedback from their product and thought moving into the new century might be the perfect time to sell. The startup was offered to Excite for one million dollars, but Excite CEO George Bell didn't bite. Even when the price was lowered to $750,000, Excite passed.

(Remember this logo? It was once the "ultimate" for Google founders.)

Today, Google is worth $290 billion and Excite is basically defunct. Bell now works as a GM for a Boston company. While this didn't turn into a marketing fail, it's dubbed one of the biggest faux pas a CEO has ever made. Talk about not knowing a treasure when it's dished up on a silver platter.

Lessons learned

CEOs are hopefully in their highfalutin positions because they have the experience, skills, and know-how to make the best moves for a company -- but they're still human. Marketers have the experience, skills, and know-how to best present information to the intended audience. Unfortunately, sometimes this requires covering up the mistakes of others.

The good news is that everyone in the company is (hopefully) after the same goals. Better sales, a better reputation, and a better future put everyone on the same track.

Anna Johansson is a freelance writer.

On Twitter? Follow iMedia Connection at @iMediaTweet.

"Boss with employees" image via Shutterstock.

Roger has worked as the Web Editor for Emap/USA Outdoor Group and was responsible for editing articles for several publications. Prior to Emap/USA, Roger worked as a Development Executive for television and feature production companies. Roger has...

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