All Business Is Personal: CBS Moves Media Biz To OMD

George Schweitzer of CBSCBS Corp. has suddenly moved its $135 million media business, without a review, to Omnicom Group's OMD USA from Interpublic's Initiative--a shift the media company would have made before the broadcast season began.

CBS was considering a transition once Initiative senior executive Alan Cohen was named CEO of OMD USA in April. He started at OMD June 1. But by then, CBS had many media and promotional decisions already in process for the upcoming broadcast season.

"We would have had to do this in May--or now," says George Schweitzer, president of the CBS Marketing Group. "We wanted to get everything done for the [February] sweep."

The decision was made today, says Schweitzer, to take advantage of a typical 90-day transition between media agencies. It allows CBS to set up its media and marketing plans for the upcoming February sweeps. The media buying and planning also includes cable network Showtime.

Cohen is a former senior entertainment marketing executive at ABC, NBC and 20th Century Fox. One of his first pieces of business when coming to Initiative was getting CBS' media business in March 2006. Cohen was president of Initiative West and Worldwide Innovation.

Schweitzer said his decision was an easy one: It was all about key executives. Not only was CBS wedded to Cohen, but two other Initiative executives who worked specifically on the CBS business followed Cohen to OMD this summer: Greg Castronuovo and Jonathan Haber.

Schweitzer emphasizes that Initiative did nothing wrong--it was just about the personnel who have done great work for CBS.

Castronuovo was Initiative's senior vice president, entertainment, now managing director of OMD West. Jonathan Haber, formerly director of Initiative West's Innovations department, is now heading a new creative group at OMD dubbed "The Factory: Ignition 3.0."

This season, CBS has shown strong results among the broadcast networks. It has had the most success with new series, such as Tuesday night's "The Mentalist" and its Thursday drama "Eleventh Hour." Older shows such as "NCIS" have shown new life.

Overall, CBS has declined the least among the broadcast networks. Among adults 18-49, the network is down 6% to an average 4.04 rating--good for second place, but a bit behind ABC's 4.09 rating.

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