Groundbreaking MTV deal
The pair worked together at Turner for six years before Mr. Lawenda, 40, switched over to Viacom, where he played a pivotal role in launching UPN on broadcast TV as well as leveraging the company's digital assets across cable networks such as Spike TV, VH1, VH1 Classic, VH1 Soul, Logo and The N. It was there that Mr. Lawenda and Mr. Uva also collaborated on a reported $300 million upfront deal between MTV Networks and OMD, for which Mr. Uva was serving as CEO. It was a groundbreaking deal that left a lasting impression on Mr. Lawenda's once and future boss.
"David was able to pull together very disparate parts of the MTV Networks and effectively listen to the needs and wants of all the clients at OMD," Mr. Uva said in a joint interview with his newest employee. "It really stood out in my mind that David was not only the catalyst for the deal but he was able to pull it off in a very painless and efficient manner."
Mr. Lawenda's hiring is the result of Mr. Uva's restructuring of his ad-sales team at the Hispanic multimedia company. Previously, the ad division had been headed by two co-presidents, Dennis McCauley and Tom McGarrity, who will both resign as of Sept. 30. The two execs will remain as consultants to Univision during their transitional period. It's the first major infrastructure change Mr. Uva has made in his five months at Univision, and he sees the shift as a way to better leverage his company's assets to reach more marketers.
'Nimble and collaborative'
"We have a great ad-sales foundation, and my vision of this company -- predating [Mr. Lawenda's] position and restructuring -- was to have one president of ad sales overseeing all the divisions of the company," Mr. Uva said. "It will allow us to be more nimble and more collaborative internally, and focus on what we have to do to reach the community."
For Mr. Lawenda, who leaves his post at Viacom, where he was senior VP-ad sales for MTV Networks, his early goals are to continue down the path he started at Viacom by connecting targeted audiences with their favorite content, wherever they may go to consume it. "What's most striking to me is the powerful connection our audience has with each of our media assets. I think there are ways for us to really harness the power of those assets and audiences to better serve our marketing partners," Mr. Lawenda said.
Univision is also nearing completion of its first upfront under Mr. Uva's reign, following an engagement-themed, star-studded presentation in May. Observing the upfront process in the Hispanic market for the first time was especially eye-opening for Mr. Uva. "The marketplace we saw was an approach far more collaborative and innovative in terms of just asking advertisers to buy more time on our air," he said.
"This company never got the credit it was due for doing innovative things in the past," Mr. Uva said. "We want to take our success and great case studies and use them as best-practice examples to create new relationships with more agencies and more advertisers. I hope the market will respond similarly to what I'm saying."
And though Mr. Lawenda will be working to brush up on his Spanish, Mr. Uva shared at least one key phrase his new ad-sales chief will need to learn to succeed in his new role: "un tequila por favor."