Q&A With Michael Greenlees

by , May 21, 2007, 6:00 AM
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Michael Greenlees is an advertising heavyweight whose 30-plus-year career spans the founding of Gold Greenlees Trott in Great Britain and running the global TBWA Worldwide as president and CEO. He's just joined the board of directors of Heavy.com, which specializes in online video for 18- to-34-year-old men.

What attracted you to Heavy?

I looked at Heavy on behalf of a private equity group sometime ago and was impressed with the two of them--David Carson and Simon Assaad [co-CEOs and co-founders.] They have an interesting platform and a unique approach to the market. It's a profitable platform, which is not necessarily the case with online media.

What is your new role?

Non-executive board director and advisor.

What do you think you'll bring to them?

An understanding of how to apply their skills to the way in which consumers behave and the way in which advertisers seek to interact with those consumers. Online is another direct marketing platform and channel. I spent my life in marketing and media. I can bring the lessons from the old media to the new.

What is the biggest opportunity for Heavy?

To demonstrate to agencies and advertisers just how unique their media offering is. Its original short-form media content is really connecting with this audience and making the experience an important one.

What does your arrival signal?

There's a desire to rapidly ramp and grow the business. This is what the next three or four years of Heavy are about. It's about becoming the significant player in short-form media experiences on the Internet.

What's the plan for doing that?

We are going to develop globally. We are taking steps into the U.K. and into Asia as well.

Where does Heavy fit into the recent M&A binge?

I'll tell you, the plates are really moving in this space. The big media players are rapidly moving into the entertainment space. To survive in that place, you need to have a very differentiated product.

What benefit is there to your experience?

One of the interesting things about these early-stage businesses is they need to grow up very quickly. I started my own business back in 1980 back in London in advertising and marketing--GCT Group, which was bought by Omnicom in 1997. I ran TBWA between '97 and 2001-02. So not only have I built my own business. I took a business public. I went from an early start-up to a major network with 8,000 people. It's been a journey.

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