Digital-Agency CEO Jumps to Publishing Company

Q&A: Meredith's New Integrated-Marketing Head, Martin Reidy

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Meredith Corp., the owner of magazine brands such as Family Circle and Ladies' Home Journal as well as a suite of local broadcast TV stations, has spent the past few years also building out its marketing capabilities, most recently buying a stake in the Hyperfactory, a mobile-marketing specialist.

Martin Reidy
Martin Reidy
Today it named a new president of Meredith Integrated Marketing: Martin Reidy, who was president-CEO of Publicis Modem and Dialog and, before that, president-CEO of R/GA Interactive. He started out at consulting firm Bain & Co., rising to partner before leaving to become senior VP at EMI Music. At Meredith he succeeds Wendy Riches, who was named to the newly created post of chief strategy officer.

We asked Mr. Reidy what he's doing at a media company, where he wants to take the marketing division and whether agencies should be scared of their media partners yet. Here are his answers, lightly edited.

Ad Age: Why move to Meredith now?

Mr. Reidy: I was not looking to change jobs or anything, but this opportunity came up with Meredith, and it was really exciting to me, because I've missed the content business going back to my EMI days.

I've spent a number of years now in the agency world. Meredith has this unique ability to leverage its content, and it also has a really close connection with its customers. It has one of the largest presences online with women. And more and more, how advertisers reach people is not just about pushing stuff. It's more about connecting with them.

Then what they have in terms of the services. What Wendy, Steve [Lacy, Meredith president-CEO] and Jack [Griffin, president of Meredith's National Media Group] have done is bought some really great companies that specialize in particular things.

They have some great agencies down in Los Angeles, with Genex and O'Grady Meyers. There's New Media Strategies in Washington, an excellent social-media company. You can't just dabble around with these things; you really have to specialize. I think just the connection with what they have on the traditional side and what they have online means they can really do something different here. And also with TV and video, with their broadcast stations -- you're just starting to see how that connects online.

Ad Age: Wendy Riches seemed to be focused on taking marketing to the next level, and it seems that she's done that. So what's the direction you've been charged with taking Meredith Integrated Marketing?

Mr. Reidy: I was going to say to the next level. Here's the thing. What I've done over my career is literally try to grow agencies, like at R/GA, similarly at Modem. It's all about growth. Part of it is going to be organically: How do we get out to more clients? Wendy's done a fabulous job on that. New business is my passion.

Acquisitions are also part of my background, going back to Bain & Co., where I did a lot of work on the M-and-A area. I then moved over to EMI Music. While I was there we acquired a ton of labels. We did small labels and also did the biggest deal at the time when we bought Virgin Records.

I really got into the operations and management side at R/GA. Then David Kenny, who I worked with at Bain & Co., wanted to expand Digitas and asked me to join there to start a second network. We bought Modem. Then all of Digitas and Modem was sold to Publicis.

Ad Age: How does doing this job here differ from running a more traditional agency?

Mr. Reidy: Part of it is that it won't just be services that we offer clients. It will be building things around the publishing brands. I'll be working not just with clients and marketing services but working with Jack and Steve and the whole interactive space to see what else makes sense. How do we tie in our customers more closely? It's less kind of an outside person looking in. The word integrated is totally overused but I couldn't see a better example of integrated marketing than this.

Ad Age: Can Meredith compete with traditional agencies, for whom marketing services is their main business? What are the conflicts of interest and what are the opportunities? Should agencies be worried about their turf?

Mr. Reidy: I wouldn't say they're worried about their turf because we actually work with agencies. I would say it's more complementary. It really is delivering the best service. I don't really see it as direct competition.

One of the things that we don't do, which I think would be a direct conflict, is media buying. That's crossing the neutral zone. That's something that we're very careful not to do. That's where the conflict comes in, saying, "Where should you put your ads?"

Ad Age:You've worked with many large Fortune 500 clients. What kinds of things have they been telling you that they want from their media partners?

Mr. Reidy: They want to know: In what way can they better connect with the customers the media companies have, as opposed to just placing ads? How can they communicate with them?

The media companies are a great conduit for that. How much more could we move in that direction? And how can the marketers' brands be part of that more? Publishing companies have done a really good job of getting a two-way dialogue. Meredith is including its clients more and more into that.

Customers are very trusting of the Meredith publishing brands. That's one thing we have to be careful of. If in some way you can establish a relationship, saying, "Here's one of our magazines working with one of these brands out there. Trust us, we're not going to exploit you. Let's try to get a dialogue going," then that's something that clients would love -- and, done properly, something customers and visitors would appreciate as well.

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