Antony Young

President of Optimedia U.S.

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New Zealander Antony Young is one of those ad-industry executives who voraciously consumes media.

When he's not watching three hours of TV a night -- his favorite shows include "American Idol," "Dancing With the Stars" and "Two and a Half Men" -- Mr. Young is thumbing through any number of publications.
Antony Young, president of Optimedia U.S.
Antony Young, president of Optimedia U.S.

He's also the kind of agency president who walks the digital talk; he can often be found on Facebook talking up Optimedia.

Knowledge of the media business is one thing; execution is another. In the past year, Mr. Young has helped Optimedia U.S. step up its game by becoming a force in communications planning. He's also tried to put a face on the Publicis Groupe-owned shop by staking a claim on being the "ROI agency" and adding the mantra "Never settle, never stop."

Last year, billings were up 10% to $2.9 billion, while revenue climbed 13% to $170 million.

"Antony has a tremendous strength in managing his team and building a real sense of belonging and unification," says Mr. Young's boss, ZenithOptimedia North America CEO Tim Jones. He adds that Mr. Young is truly a global citizen. "He's been very successful at running businesses in Asia, Europe and now the United States."

Mr. Young, 43, helped launch a new way to evaluate media properties that goes well beyond Nielsen Media Research data. He explains the rationale for developing a new tool called Content Power, suggesting that people aren't leaving TV; they're just consuming shows differently.

"Far more of our clients are involved in barter, product placement and sponsorship," he says. "Our ratings system aggregates online views of TV shows and web traffic and buzz and public relations, as well as integrating program quality and appeal."

For T-Mobile USA, Mr. Young helped push the company into doing more branded-entertainment projects with the likes of MTV Networks, says Brett Dennis, director-media and sponsorship, promotions and events at T-Mobile. "His team likes to talk about moving from media exposure to media experiences," Mr. Dennis says, adding that Mr. Young "looked at our business and turned it on its head."

Optimedia has been doing better on the new-business front, picking up MTV Networks' Rhapsody, Collective Brands' Payless ShoeSource and Stride Rite, and Giorgio Armani, plus a Citigroup communications-planning assignment.

When asked to describe what's changed under his leadership, Mr. Young says Optimedia once struggled to grow despite its solid credentials. "That's what I've tried to focus on," he says, "because if you're not growing, you're dying."
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