John Muszynski

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Starcom mediavest group's win of the $350 million Coca-Cola Co. business last year was a huge boost for the Publicis Groupe-owned agency, and it couldn't have happened without veteran media executives like John Muszynski. The 46-year-old executive, elevated to managing director-investment operations at Starcom USA last March, has spent all his professional life working for the same agency, starting in the media department of Chicago-based Leo Burnett Co. as a media strategist 24 years ago and flourishing with the company as it grew and evolved into the standalone media giant that it is today, billing about $6 billion.

"John brings a great balance of client relationship and business knowledge and strategy," says Renetta McCann, now CEO of the Americas for Starcom MediaVest. "He is so much more than just a buyer; he is driving the company to innovate in the marketplace."

Working closely with Exec VP Rishad Tobaccowala, Mr. Muszynski recently created a dedicated group within Starcom called the Video Investment Group. The idea is to make sure advertisers not only look to TV for advertising solutions, but also check out high-speed Internet. According to Starcom, its advertisers have shifted portions of their budgets out of TV and into broadband; it now has 20 advertisers working deals through VIG.

"The thing that sets us apart is that we believe in a partnership, rather than a buyer-seller arrangement," Mr. Muszynski says. "We are looking for not only a return on investment but also a return on their objectives."

It almost sounds as if Mr. Muszynski is likening his role to that of a banker and his shop to a savings bank for advertisers.

"I wouldn't say bankers because they sit on money and give you a low return," he says. "Some cases it might just be buying television in the traditional way; other times it might be creating a new opportunity or new vehicle, like when we created an upfront for broadband."

Starcom has been sponsoring a virtual broadband upfront since 2003, selling ad inventory in broadband in bulk much as the broadcast TV upfront does every year.

"These are the kinds of innovations our clients look for, and you don't get that with a traditional buyer," says Mr. Muszynski, who has been an innovator in cable, where more and more clients are parking their marketing investments, and in the creation of content.

Mr. Muszynski and his teams created a specific campaign for the U.S. Army, negotiating a deal with A&E Television Networks' History Channel to air short programs about real-life soldier stories during the rebroadcast of Steven Spielberg's "Band of Brothers." For Allstate Corp., Mr. Muszynski and his team created "Gilmore Greats," vignettes of "pivotal moments" from past episodes of The WB's "Gilmore Girls." The vignettes ran for 30 seconds and were introduced with: "This `Gilmore Great' is brought to you by Allstate"; they ended with the tagline "Prepare yourself for life's great moments. Are you in good hands?" The vignettes were followed by Allstate spots.

After all these years, Mr. Muszynski's working relationship with Ms. McCann couldn't be better-but they do have opposite tastes in certain areas. "John and I share an absolute passion for the original `Law & Order' series," Ms. McCann confides. "And we are both really big on `CSI.' On the other hand, I'll watch `Joan of Arcadia,' and he really doesn't. You know, he hunts, he fishes, he does things like that."

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