Marianne Gambelli, the veteran overseer of ad-sales at the NBC broadcast network, is leaving her position less than a month after parent company NBC Universal placed an executive above her to supervise the company's overall ad-sales effort.
"After a great deal of thought, I have come to the realization that it's time for me to make a change. Today will be my last day at NBCUniversal. This was not an easy decision for me to make, but it's time for me to explore new opportunities," Ms. Gambelli wrote in a note to colleagues reviewed by Advertising Age Friday.
Ms. Gambelli has a long history in the ad world, joining NBC as an account executive in 1989 and moving steadily up through the network's sports-sales ranks and into jobs of increasing responsibility. It was Ms. Gambelli who helped the network work on ways to respond to sponsors increasingly seeking placement of their products in NBC's programs, and Ms. Gambelli who lead NBC's ad sales as the network devised increasingly creative ways of pairing in-show product appearances with clever and very specific commercials in adjacent ad breaks.
Yet Ms. Gambelli, while taking on more and more responsibility, has often had a boss, whether it be former NBC ad-sales honcho Keith Turner or Mike Pilot, an executive who came to NBC Universal from General Electric and supervised all of the ad-sales efforts of NBC Universal across cable, broadcast and digital. When Comcast Corp. secured a majority stake in NBCU from GE in early 2011, Ms. Gambelli was made the top ad-sales executive at the broadcast network, while the company's cable properties were supervised by a different executive.
Comcast has been reversing that structure in recent months. Linda Yaccarino, a former executive at Time Warner 's Turner Entertainment, was named head of NBCU's cable and digital ad-sales in 2011, and speculation at the time had it that she was going to be given oversight of all of the company's properties.
Since Ms. Yaccarino's arrival, several of NBCU's top sales people have left, realizing, perhaps, that a new sherriff was in town and they would have to be content playing the role of deputy. When Ms. Yaccarino was named head of NBCU's cable sales, Dave Cassaro, a veteran Comcast executive, opted to leave the company. And not soon after she took her position, a subordinate, Steve Mandala, left. He has since resurfaced at Spanish-language broadcaster Univision, where a number of top NBCU executives have begun to congregate.
"Marianne has been a valued member of our sales organization for many years. We have nothing but tremendous respect and admiration for her, and we thank her for her many contributions to NBCUniversal," the company said in a statement.
Ms. Gambelli leaves just as the NBC broadcast network is showing early signs of a turnaround after languishing in the ratings for several years. The network has been buoyed by ratings for "Sunday Night Football" and "The Voice" and has already picked up several series, including "Revolution," "Go On" and "The New Normal" for full seasons.