Name: Bruce Gersh
Who he is: Gersh was named senior VP-business development, ABC Entertainment Group in April 2004. He is responsible for all traditional and online business development across ABC daytime, prime time and Touchstone Television, the TV studio that is also a part of Walt Disney Co.
Where he's from: Before joining ABC in 2000, Gersh was a business-development consultant for NBC Enterprises, where he was instrumental in the launch of the NBC direct-response business. He began his career as a tax accountant with Arthur Andersen.
What he's done: Among myriad duties, when ABC sells in a product-placement deal, Gersh sits on the Touchstone studio side to ensure the integration is done organically. In prime time, he has performed this role for integrations such as Sears into "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" and Nokia and Ford into "Alias". He also oversees ancillary revenue streams such as licensing/merchandising, home video and publishing. One of the more creative things he's done is build a business called Shop the Soaps where jewelry is contextually placed in daytime dramas and then sold.
What's next: Gersh has noticed an increased willingness on the part of scripted producers to explore new relationships with brands. "The introduction of reality television has really shown the community that there are ways of integrating product in an organic fashion. Over time, I believe the scripted community will be open to it as long as there are people like we have at ABC/Touchstone overseeing their best interests."
Stock-in-trade: "I don't believe that [our competitors] have people sitting on both sides, overseeing the interests of both the network and the studio. Also, I don't believe that some of the other networks have figured out how to develop businesses off of their integration."