A Sports Fan Can Now Combine Business and Pleasure

Fuse CEO Steve Grubbs Talks About the Changes at Omnicom Media Group

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Last week Omnicom Media Group announced the formation of Fuse Sports and Entertainment Group as a sibling to media units OMD and PHD. Steve Grubbs, who had been CEO-president of PHD, North America, was named the new CEO of Fuse, which will meld Optimum Entertainment, Optimum Sports, Full-Circle Entertainment and Highway Entertainment under one umbrella.
Sports enthusiast Steve Grubbs now leads Omnicom's Fuse Sports and Entertainment Group.
Sports enthusiast Steve Grubbs now leads Omnicom's Fuse Sports and Entertainment Group.

Mr. Grubbs spoke with MediaWorks about how this restructuring came about and what it means for his work on the E-Media Exchange, an online trade program to complement the media buying and selling that takes place at the upfront.

MediaWorks: Why leave the agency you helped build five years ago?

Steve Grubbs: I had a long-range work plan at PHD. I had a plan and a date at which point and time I was going to step down and do something else. There was a succession plan in place. This has been coming for three years now.

I have been a sports enthusiast all my life. I played sports, I watch sports, I love to go to the events. When I was at BBDO for 22 years and worked with Pepsi and FedEx and Frito-Lay and Visa, we managed a lot of sports buying. For me, that was an area of interest and an area that was fun. If you asked me what my passion points are in life, sports is certainly right up there at the top of the list.

Within the management structure of the Omnicom Media Group, we started looking at things last fall. We determined that it would be in our best interest to create a strategic business unit around entertainment and sports and I expressed my interest in overseeing this unit.

MediaWorks: How does your day-to-day change in your new position?

Mr. Grubbs: It changes completely. Here I am running PHD North America, which is 500-plus people and managing nine offices, including [those in] Canada. In some ways it is similar to what we did with PHD when I started here, we took three separate companies -- Advanswers Media, Creative Media and Pentagon out of Detroit -- and rolled them up to create one company.

My day-to day before was very broadly focused in managing all aspects of the client-services unit and now I'll be overseeing on a much smaller operation with a laser-point focus on entertainment and sports. It is funny because if you were to ask 10 different people how they define entertainment, you'd get 10 different answers. So, step one is to define what we mean by entertainment.

MediaWorks: When does this start?

Mr. Grubbs: As you know, there are four companies that have been rolled-up to create Fuse. I have four divisions I have been working with for a few weeks, but I've also been winding down and transitioning my responsibilities from PHD. We haven't put a hard date on it, but now I am spending more then 50% on Fuse and ... it's been a gradual shift. I've pretty much wound down the PHD responsibilities now.

MediaWorks: So how does the creation of Fuse change the structure of OMG?

Mr. Grubbs: Some resources that were OMD dedicated resources will now be available to PHD. What we are doing in essence is setting up is an infrastructure that resides between OMD and PHD and can service clients from both of those entities. It's not just for entertainment and sports, it's for other areas as well. It's about creating something more substantial that can work with all the clients that reside within the Omnicom Media Group companies.

MediaWorks: Is it safe to assume you'll still be working on the E-Media Exchange?

Mr. Grubbs: I will likely continue to be involved with it. I'd like to see the industry test it and that's all we've been calling for -- a test to see if this makes sense for the buyer, seller and marketer. I know that the [Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau] finally has a beta test of the system. They've been working with it and we hope to sit down with them very shortly and get some feedback about how it should function. At the end of the day, if the media seller, agency and advertiser don't all support this then it just doesn't work, but I don't believe the need for it will ever go away.
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