But when talk turns to the future of advertising, he maintains a veteran's skepticism. "We're not going to an extreme world where everything will be very narrowly cast to the individual; tastes are too broad," says Mr. Scanzoni. "The basics of media will continue to apply: good TV programming will require advertising support, and technology will find new ways of delivering the ads," he says.
With three decades worth of media experience, Mr. Scanzoni is valued by clients for his ability to cut through the hype, finding substance and value in a fast-changing industry.
"What's incredible about Rino is his read on the marketplace," says Alice Nolan, VP-media services, Cadbury Schweppes Americas Beverages. Mediaedge handles Cadbury Schweppes' Dr Pepper, among others. "He calls it almost to the penny of how it plays out."
Mr. Scanzoni, 51, maintains a fit and youthful edge through aggressive downhill skiing. He's comfortable on the steepest slopes of North America and Europe, and he frequently travels with his wife to his ancestral home in Northern Italy. He also sets a fast pace on a bicycle, both on- and off-road.
In 2003 Mr. Scanzoni engineered the placement of AT&T Wireless in Fox Television's "American Idol," which gained a great deal of attention. Last year he was the mastermind behind another high-profile product placement effort, when Campbell Soup Co.'s Pepperidge Farm sponsored a multipage program in TV Guide including promotions and sweepstakes; in turn, the brand's Milano cookies were integrated into the final episode of NBC-TV's "Frasier."
In negotiating media, Mr. Scanzoni scrutinizes marketer objectives from many angles, looking for ways to concentrate dollars for high impact.
For Mattel, Mr. Scanzoni's "intelligent negotiations and tight stewardship" of media buys are crucial, says Rick Dellacquila, the toymaker's senior VP-global advertising and media, along with his media insights. He adds: "Rino has the right balance of intellectual curiosity, smarts, passion and ethics."
Beginning in 1976 in New York at Ted Bates Advertising, Mr. Scanzoni originally hoped to get into TV production but was hired as a media planner.
"Media planning gave me a sense of what clients were driving at, and then I found I had a knack for negotiation," he says, and after 18 months he moved to BBDO.
It was the eve of the computer era, and media buyers crunched numbers with slide rules. Calculators took up half of a desktop, he says, but it provided him with a deep background in understanding the mathematics of media.
Two years later he was hired at Benton & Bowles as assistant director of national TV programming, where he stayed for several years. He embraced the rise of computers and technology-driven research there, eventually becoming a supervisor working on "every major type of advertising account."
In 1993 Mr. Scanzoni joined Irwin Gotlieb in launching TeleVest, one of the first standalone media operations (now Publicis Groupe's MediaVest).
Although the fragmenting media universe makes his job tougher, Mr. Scanzoni likes the chaos. "I thrive on the intensity," he says.