A decade later, Mr. Terkelsen got a call from that same executive -- only this time the market was ready, and she got him to join her at MediaVest.
Both have risen since then. The exec who hired him is Laura Desmond, now CEO of Starcom MediaVest Group, the Americas. Mr. Terkelsen is exec VP-managing director of Connectivetissue, MediaVest's brand-in-entertainment unit.
He develops entertainment-marketing solutions consumers won't want to zap. "Change is a given in marketing," says Mr. Terkelsen, 45, who's also held executive posts at internet companies Quokka Sports and Be Here Technologies. "But there's no fixed destination. ... We'll have to move the finish line every 18 months."
So far, he's right on track. Mr. Terkelsen's team recently developed Kraft Foods' "Trail Mix Crunch Alaskan Adventure Challenge," a series of 90-second mini-sodes telecast during Discovery Channel's spring 2008 Alaska Week. He's also the media mind behind Procter & Gamble Co.'s "My Life as a Cover Girl," which premiered in 2005. The 45-second branded show within "America's Next Top Model," featuring previous "top models," is "so contextually relevant that viewers believe it to be content -- which it is," Mr. Terkelsen says.
"What's unique about Brian is that he can speak to both the Hollywood side and the media side of a deal -- with authority," says Jarrod Moses, CEO of United Entertainment Group, which handles entertainment marketing for P&G beauty brands. He adds that Mr. Terkelsen "is a team player who leads by example. He asks people to huddle together to create solutions as a team."
When Mars Inc. asked MediaVest how M&M's characters might factor into an entertainment experience, Connectivetissue got the candy-coated icons a gig as "Entertainment Tonight" correspondents. According to custom research from Publicis Groupe's MediaVest, brand recall is nearly 80% higher for "ET" episodes featuring the characters, who've interviewed the likes of Queen Latifah and Jennifer Love Hewitt, than for episodes with traditional M&M's commercials.
Mr. Terkelsen is nostalgic for the 1950s, when marketers had a higher tolerance for art and instinct. "Those marketers were willing to take a gamble, to say, '[Gross ratings points] be damned; this just feels right.'" He says he likes knowing the stats are there, "but marketing has become such a mathematical, quant-jock sort of thing. Where did the art go?"
Mr. Terkelsen is out to reclaim it. Given the agency's results, he's likely to convert every last quant-jock into a patron of the arts.