James Hedleston

VP-Global Media and Content Distribution, American Express Co.

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James Hedleston turned heads at the Association of National Advertisers' TV Ad Forum last March, when the American Express Co. VP-global media and content distribution announced that AmEx was putting the kibosh on the traditional definition of TV and reclassified it as "rolling video stock" -a term that encompasses cinema, preroll online video, video podcasts and traditional TV.
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James Hedleston, VP-Global Media and Content Distribution, American Express Co.
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Creating new ad structures seems to be a specialty of Mr. Hedleston's. "He creates new words and terminology to remove barriers," says Nancy Smith, VP-global media and sponsorship marketing, and a Media Maven in 2004. Ms. Smith says. Mr. Hedleston was her first hire at AmEx 10 years ago, and she considers him a "terrifically creative marketer" who recognizes that a 30-second TV spot is video, and how to take what was a commercial and make it into a piece of content that can live in different video formats.

"TV is still a big medium," Mr. Hedleston says. "There is always a plan for commercial TV. We are a big player in cinema, broadband streaming, podcasting, cellphone delivery-that's as important a way to get the message out as all the others. When you add up all the uses, they start to rival commercial television ... The advertising has to go on with it."

"His whole approach is about finding a way to do business that is consumer-focused and that is rewarding for both sides," Ms. Smith says.

Mr. Hedleston started out at a small agency, but he cut his teeth on the client side of media planning, with 10 years at Anheuser-Busch Cos. He ties that experience together with his work today by continuing to put the "focus on the customer and making the customer experience better in our ad messages ," Mr. Hedleston says.

One example is a global tennis sponsorship tie-in to the "My Life" campaign that includes the 2006 U.S. Open. A TV commercial features Andy Roddick playing Pong and a website where consumers can compete against Pong online as Mr. Roddick.

"We were able to take people from a static TV commercial-and the winner [in Australia] ended up playing the game for eight hours-that's real engagement."

"Innovation has always been how [AmEx does] business."

* Drove promos with actor Ken Watanabe, director M. Night Shyamalan

* Focuses on boosting the consumer experience
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