Turner Broadcasting Ad Sales Adopts Client-First Strategy

Reorganizes Team and Creates New Client Strategy and Ad Innovation Group

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Donna Speciale
Donna Speciale Credit: Courtesy Turner

Turner Broadcasting's ad sales team is adopting a client-first strategy.

The Time Warner-owned cable programmer is reorganizing its ad sales team and creating a new client strategy and ad innovation group designed to focus on individual marketers and specific advertising categories, the company said Tuesday.

The goal is to deepen direct relationships with marketers, positioning Turner as a strategic partner and resource that can provide clients with insights that can help formulate business solutions, said Donna Speciale, president-ad sales, Turner Broadcasting, whose networks include TNT, TNT, TruTV, Cartoon Network and CNN.

As part of the reorganization, senior sales leaders Katrina Cukaj, Joe Hogan and Frank Sgrizzi will also now go to market representing the entire portfolio instead of individual networks. And instead of each exec VP speaking with all agencies, they will each be assigned an agency or agency holding company. The thinking there is to simplify collaboration with advertisers by limiting the necessary meetings and making it easier to generate big ideas.

The new client strategy and ad innovation unit will be led by Michael Strober, who previously served as senior VP within the entertainment sales division. It will be responsible for developing next-generation capabilities around audience targeting and ROI guarantees, as well as emphasizing individual client and category strategy. To that end, the division will consist of employees tasked with becoming experts in sectors such as autos and consumer packaged goods, who can then lend insights to marketers.

Mr. Strober will report directly to Ms. Speciale.

Dan Reiss, who previously served as exec VP-integrated marketing and branded content, will now serve as exec VP-content partnerships.

The moves means clients will now have people they know intimately helping to align business objectives while agency conversations happen at a much more senior level, Ms. Speciale said.

Ms. Speciale, an agency vet who spent about eight years at Publicis Groupe's MediaVest before joining Turner in 2012, said the reorganization has been her vision over the past several years after it became evident that business would be conducted across the network's portfolio.

Turner combined its linear and digital sales divisions two years ago and went to market during this year's upfront as one portfolio.

The restructuring comes just days after Publicis announced its own reorganization bringing together agencies in four hubs in a move described as an effort to break down silos.

Ms. Speciale said Turner's move aligns with Publicis' strategy.

NBC Universal outlined a similar goal last month with its own ad sales reorganization. The media behemoth is integrating its digital and linear ad sales teams and its Client Partnerships team will assume a bigger role in working directly with marketers.

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