CAB Completes Build-Out, Sales Teams Poised To Swarm Upfront Market

As part of a build-out that will give it more feet on the street as it enters the crucial upfront planning season for the 2006-07 TV advertising marketplace, the Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau has named new sales and marketing executives to its team. The new appointments, which include former Atari Media Director David Leitner, and former Nick@Nite/MTV Networks Marketing Manager Annelisa Gadea, complete a transformation of the organization that began when former Universal McCann North America chief Sean Cunningham took its helm in July 2003.

Since then, the CAB has recruited a number of former agency and client-side media executives as part of a shift from a centralized, information-based organization to fleeter teams of sales and marketing executives who travel the country year-round making individualized sales calls on clients and agency media departments.

With the new additions, CAB CEO Sean Cunningham says the bureau will have three, two-person teams capable of making several sales calls each per week, as the upfront marketing season gets underway. And it is likely to be one that is more competitive, more cluttered, and earlier than any other before.



"On any given day, we can make three sales calls, with at least a couple of people per call," boasts Cunningham, known for getting hands-on, rolling up his sleeves in many of the pitches. "We can go from a car dealership in Iowa to MediaVest in New York all in the same day."

That last point is key to the CAB's strategy, he says, noting that unlike past regimes that had different groups pitching national and local cable, the new CAB jointly sells national and local cable as a single message.

That message will shift from the year-round pitch it has been making to an upfront-focused story later this month. "We're already booking January appointments," Cunningham, told MediaDailyNews, alluding to the first 2006-07 sales calls, which will break later this month. Cunningham would not elaborate on the specific message of those calls, but he said it would deal with a "nonlinear" theme that would demonstrate the unique roll of both operators and networks to leverage the way people watch TV today for advertisers and agencies. "We are literally a day or two from changing the content of our calls a few degrees to the right or the left for the upfront pitch."

In terms of the manpower behind that message, Cunningham said the CAB has now tripled the sales and marketing team from three when he took over the organization to nine. "We can easily make a couple of hundred presentations this year. It's up. I'm going to guess we made 140 to 150 this past year," Cunningham noted, adding, "Sometime in the second quarter of this year we'll have made our 300th sales call since I've been here."

In addition to Leitner and Gadea, the CAB's Madison Avenue SWAT team includes Cunningham, Ira Sussman, Chuck Thompson, and Danielle Delauro.

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