Agencies Grab Honors, Look Toward Super Bowl And Beyond

Media Magazine's Agency of the Year Awards

The Yale Club, NYC

1/31/12

Winning SmilesTop executives from winning agencies such as MPG Global CEO Maria Luisa Francoli, GroupM Interaction COO John Montgomery and Saatchi & Saatchi X CEO Dina Howell were in attendance Tuesday as "Media Magazine" handed out its annual Agency of the Year awards. For the full rundown of the Oscars of Media Agencies click here.

Horizon Media took home the honors in the independent media services category for innovation and risk- taking, but boundaries can’t be pushed without a steady stream of clients.

In 2011, Horizon won close to $1 billion in new business, highlighted by the huge Capital One account. That means it’s now placing ads featuring Capital One’s marauding Visigoths and Geico's Cavemen (the insurance giant is a long-time client). “We’re looking back a lot -- we like to think we're forward-thinking in our media,” said Mike O’Connor, a vice president-broadcast director at Horizon.

PhotoboothAt the packed awards ceremony at the Yale Club, O’Connor shared good cheer with hordes of executives from every part of the media ecosystem -- from buyers to sellers and clients. MediaPost Editor in Chief Joe Mandese emceed the event, offering his usual blend of wit and unmatched industry perspective. Some attendees took advantage of a photo booth set up by the Oxygen network, now launching its “Get Obsessed” upfront campaign. Yes -- an upfront campaign all these months ahead (although the weather feels more like summer selling season).

Puja Vohra, Oxygen’s vice president of ad sales marketing, said the network has many new shows coming, including two docudramas in the music space, so “it’s a key time -- we want to be out there." Of course, much of the ad business is looking ahead to Sunday’s Super Bowl, and many of the award winners -- including MPG, which three-peated as agency of the year -- have purchased expensive time in the big game. These days, many advertisers pay the freight, hoping to get added value with endorsements on Twitter and replays on YouTube.

Koenigsberg & Mandese“There’s going to be buzz and it lasts a long time -- a normal commercial comes and goes,” said Melissa Murphy, an activation manager in social media at YouCast- Halogen, who was joined by colleague Jay Patel. In addition to MPG, another repeat winner was out-of- home agency Posterscope. Its resume includes digital storefronts for Reebok, where passersby could have a photo taken and posted to Facebook.

How does the agency keep running so smoothly (pun intended)? “We listen to the clients,” said Katy Rivera, a vice president-director. Speaking of running, Hill Holliday won the award for full-service media agency department. The agency’s creative side developed the “America Runs on Dunkin’” campaign for Dunkin’ Donuts. But as an integrated shop, media colleagues continue to work hand in hand as the campaign evolves.“Media is at the table from the very beginning … it’s not just about a budget and executing GRPs,” said Stacey Shepatin, a senior vice president, describing the agency’s philosophy.

TCrowdhe Super Bowl is of particular interest at Boston- based Hill Holliday, which is loaded with fans of the hometown New England Patriots fans. Shepatin recommended that Tom Brady and teammates hit up a Dunkin’ in Indy before the game Sunday. "They definitely need a Turbo Shot in their coffee,” she said. 

One question that comes up frequently in media circles is what kind of impact Internet-connected TVs will have on the ad business. There’s the potential for new marketing real estate -- but how many people really want them? TubeMogul’s Chief Strategy Officer Jason Lopatecki said more and more apps for the sets might prove hard to resist. And, who might grease the wheels? Need we ask?

“I think Apple’s going to launch connected TVs and the whole industry will be playing catch- up,” Lopatecki said. Amid the Super Bowl hype, Andy Slater was thinking about another sport: politics. All units of rep firm Katz, where he is vice president and director of digital sales at Katz 360, are expecting to reap a windfall from candidate spending this year at all levels. “Politicians love television and TV will rule the roost in political advertising for the foreseeable future,” he said.

Saatchi & Saatchi XStill, with so much TV time filled, there's an opportunity to convince campaigns to increase digital spending. There could be a $4 billion political marketplace this year. and Slater said he’d be happy if digital accounts for 3% to 5%. As he spoke Tuesday, results from the GOP Florida primary were coming in. And they may not have thrilled him -- not because of any political leanings, but if Mitt Romney’s win means he will sew up the nomination sooner, that means fewer dollars will be thrown around in the short run.

Slater did say he’s a father and that trumps business -- so during elections “the betterment of the country should be the goal. Call me an idealist."

Hard not to.

Photos provided by JJ Mack. See full set of the event photos on Facebook here.

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