With the new title of exec VP-sales and marketing, Ronald Furman brings a fat Rolodex of contacts to help attract advertisers that have not yet used Univision Network, even though it reaches 92% of the U.S. Hispanic market.
Mr. Furman, who's in his early 40s, comes to the dominant Hispanic network after nine years at ABC-TV, most recently as VP for prime-time sales.
PEOPLE TAKE HIS CALLS
"I don't think there's a client that Ronny doesn't know," said a former ABC colleague. "The [Univision] story needs to get out there, and Ronny can deliver the message because he has ins with those people . . . and they'll take his calls."
Univision policy prohibits network executives like Mr. Furman from being interviewed for personality profiles. Still, friends and former colleagues alike painted a picture of a seasoned ad sales executive skilled in network and spot market sales.
Mr. Furman will be based in New York, and joins a list of former executives of rep company John Blair Television who now run Univision. Both Tom McGarrity and Dennis McCauley, currently co-presidents of Univision network sales, were with Blair previously. Mr. Furman spent six years at Blair.
AD SALES STAFF REVAMP
One of Mr. Furman's first moves after arriving was to restructure Univision's ad sales team, bringing four new staffers to regional positions -- including Judy Kenny, who followed Mr. Furman from ABC, where she spent four years as senior account exec for prime-time sales.
Mr. Furman can arm himself with some powerful numbers in convincing advertisers to take their first spin with Univision.
The growing U.S. Hispanic market, with a 1998 population of more than 30.5 million, wields spending power of more than $273 billion, according to Strategy Research.
Competition in Spanish-language TV also is heating up. Mr. Furman's arrival comes as rival Telemundo ramps up its own programming efforts, stemming from the network's proposed $539 million acquisition by Sony Pictures Entertainment, Tele-Communications Inc.'s Liberty Media Corp. and two venture capital companies.
It will fall to Mr. Furman's healthy contact list and his ability to forge new relationships to expand Univision's position, said Phil Kirk, VP-director of sales with Blair Television and a longtime friend of Mr. Furman.
Mr. Kirk, who introduced Mr. Furman to advertising with jobs at both William Esty Advertising and Blair, likened Mr. Furman's talents to what someone once said about Tom Snyder: He has an ability to "get people into the tent," Mr. Kirk said.
"Ron is very good at getting people to listen," Mr. Kirk said.