Adland Vet Mitchell Caplan Joins IBT Media as First CMO

Newsweek Owner is Growing Quickly

By Published on .

Mitchell Caplan.
Mitchell Caplan.
Most Popular

IBT Media, the company perhaps best known for buying and reviving Newsweek, hired Mitchell Caplan, the chief marketing officer at creative agency Olson, as its first CMO, the company announced today.

The addition of Mr. Caplan marks the latest step forward for this digital publisher, which is hiring so quickly it "literally cannot build cubicles fast enough," according to one staffer. IBT Media has about 210 employees, up from 150 in 2014, a spokeswoman for the company said.

Unlike many of its competitors in the digital media world -- such as Business Insider, Vox and BuzzFeed -- IBT Media has not taken on venture capital and instead funded itself entirely on ad revenue. A spokeswoman did not respond to Ad Age's inquiry about the company's 2014 revenue.

But IBT Media, whose flagship site is the International Business Times, doesn't have the same street cred as those rivals, despite International Business Times's 21.5 million unique visitors on desktop and mobile in the U.S. in May, according to ComScore. The company grabbed its first major headlines in 2013, when it bought Newsweek from Barry Diller's IAC and less than a year later revived the print edition. In October 2014, the magazine was said to be turning a profit.

Mr. Caplan, who's also held the CMO title at McCann and Young & Rubicam, will look to draw attention to IBT Media's six publications: International Business Times, Newsweek, Medical Daily, Latin Times, iDigitalTimes and Fashion Times.

"Mitchell is going to live and breathe our brands, digging deep into their meaning to redefine and narrow how we see them," Etienne Uzac, IBT Media's co-founder and CEO, said in a statement. "Ultimately, everything that involves a given brand will have to go through this identity and match this vision."

This strategy mirrors efforts by other digital-only publishers, which are investing resources in their marketing departments. BuzzFeed, for instance, just hired its first CMO, Frank Cooper, a former Pepsi marketing executive. About a year ago, Vox hired Vice's global marketing director, Jonathan Hunt. Their charge is primarily in appealing to Madison Avenue and not on consumer marketing.

To that end, Mr. Caplan's Madison Avenue connections will be put to use in helping grow ad revenue, the company said. "He'll work directly with CMOs and other client marketing decision makers, and the major media agencies, to make these connections … between their brands and ours," Mr. Uzac said.

Earlier this month, IBT Media tapped another adland executive, Rich Pasqua, who was VP-creative and user experience at NorthPoint Digital, to serve as chief experience officer.