"He's living on a plane," says Alec Gerster, worldwide chairman of MediaCom. According to Mr. Gerster, Mr. Bell's constant international traveling is evidence of his commitment to the global expansion of MediaCom.
Indeed, Mr. Bell has been a key player in Grey's efforts to expand the 13-year-old media-buying company since 1995.
Most recently, MediaCom created a joint venture with Toronto-based Media Buying Services called Media Company/MBS-Canada's second-largest media-buying company.
MediaCom now handles an estimated $8 billion in global media spending.
"What we've been doing from 1995 is taking the European success model and expanding it elsewhere in the world," says Mr. Bell. He says he would like a cohesive global network entirely branded MediaCom by the end of 1997.
According to Mr. Bell, it's a challenge to convince local markets they have to stay one step ahead of the competition, even ifthe competition hasn't reached a critical level yet.
"What were trying to do now is get out ahead of the curve and educate our local management," says Mr. Bell.
Mr. Bell says he advocates an approach to "improve our markets before we're forced to improve" them.
Certain markets "are not suffering from the competitive onslaught, [so we have to] explain what could happen in their market," he says.
Mr. Bell is a 25-year veteran of Grey-where he took his first job as a media research trainee after graduating from Monmouth College in New Jersey.
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Mr. Bell says he got the job after reading an article about Ed Meyer, who had just been named Grey's chairman. The article prompted him to call the agency about applying for a job.
The trainee job was expanded to other areas as diverse as running network and spot buying units to launching Grey Entertainment on the West Coast.
"What I've tried to do is be a corporate guy with an entrepreneurial bent," he says.
"He's home grown," says Mr. Gerster. "He's quite versatile. He's done just about