"It's about time syndication as an industry had somebody who talks our language rather than the baloney the cable people sell," says co-managing director of Grey Advertising's MediaCom, New York.
Mr. Mandel has pushed syndicators for years to be more proactive in telling their story to advertisers and agencies.
"For too long syndication has been somewhat invisible," he opines. The forerunner to SNTA, the Advertiser Syndicated Television Association, did what it could, he notes, but the syndicators "weren't putting any muscle behind it."
Thus, this past summer, ASTA -- which primarily existed due to the Herculean efforts of Tim Duncan -- was replaced by SNTA.
One agency executive describes Mr. Duncan as "an incredible one-man band for syndication for years."
Mr. Duncan had given notice that he wanted to return to consulting, so Ms. Bodenmann, 43, was recruited from Jordan McGrath Case & Partners, New York, where she had been senior VP-broadcast director.
Ms. Bodenmann is considered a syndication expert. Warren Siddall, director of advertising services at SmithKline Beecham Consumer Healthcare, declares, "She will make a wonderful ambassador for syndicators."
They'll be plenty of agency folks at the annual convention of the National Association of Television Programming Executives in New Orleans next week, though SNTA won't have a booth at the show.
"I'm going to be there and talking to people, but it doesn't make sense for me to distract people from talking to my members. My goal is to see people after NATPE, when they're back in their offices," says Ms. Bodenmann.
Dick Robertson, president of Warner Bros. Domestic Television, and one of the main SNTA boosters, explains the upcoming strategy: "We want to get out -- as soon after NATPE as possible -- a research study we've been working on. We think Allison will be able to carry our message to the advertising community and put it in the end zone."
Mr. Robertson is not the only syndicator hoping for success. When SNTA was formed, two heavyweights came on board that had not been members of ASTA -- Sony Corp.'s Columbia TriStar Television Distribution and Paramount Domestic Television.
"We're totally committed to SNTA, and we think there will be great things coming out of it," says Chris Kager, exec VP-advertising sales and marketing, Columbia TriStar.
He adds that a large part of Ms. Bodenmann's job will be to go after advertisers who spend big money on national TV, but don't opt to buy syndication. According to Ms. Bodenmann, categories such as automotive, credit cards, fast-food, financial services, retail and soft drinks are spending lightly in syndication.
"Telecommunications -- there's only one out of four or five big companies that is involved in syndication in a big way. We want to expand those," she says.
According to Mr. Mandel, fast-food chains with lots of of franchisees are reluctant to advertise in programs that don't have close to 100% distribution in the country. Many syndicated shows are well below that threshold.
"But since they advertise on cable, which is only in about three-fourths of the country, that argument doesn't really hold," Mr. Mandel notes.
"The bigger problem for syndication is that a number of syndicators have spent so much time `dissing' each other over the years that they've beaten down all of syndication," he adds. "They need to resell the medium."
One problem is some advertisers always have considered syndication tacky, painting the entire industry as clones of "The Jerry Springer Show." Ms. Bodenmann is out to change that perception.
For example, a large part of syndication is made of off-net shows, reruns of blue-chip series such as "Seinfeld" and "ER."
"Yet you'll find a lot of properties that attract, let's say, advertiser A, who then shuns it when that series in syndication," Ms. Bodenmann says. "Many of my members have light sales forces. So my goal is to help them be able to sell their shows and not spend all of their time selling the concept of syndication. I'll be talking to everyone, but I'll be focusing on advertisers and planning people and buyers. More the advertisers than the planners."
RESISTANCE FROM ADVERTISERS
That's because buyers have been telling Ms. Bodenmann that much of the resistance to syndication is found primarily on the advertiser side.
"Look," she says, "a lot of buyers are overtaxed; they've got tremendous responsibilities and it's tough for them to take on another cause. So if SNTA can make their life a little easier, that's a good cause as well."
Research will be one of her tools, but she thinks much of the resistance to syndication goes beyond the numbers.
"The research has been there for a long time. Through talking to people I'm going to find out what their real concerns are," she says.Bottom line, of course, is how many dollars SNTA can bring to the table for its members, and how quickly. Ms. Bodenmann is a realist: "I don't think we'll be able to measure it at this upfront. It's going to take longer than three months to convince a lot of people who aren't using syndication to use it. If we can get a couple of new