MEDIA MAVEN: HITTING THE BEACH A SWIMMING SUCCESS FOR MEDIASPOT CLIENT: ARTHUR YELSEY

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Arthur yelsey prides himself on being able to "think beyond the numbers."

Remarkable, perhaps, for someone in media-and who double-majored in math and physics as an undergraduate.

The president of Mediaspot in Corona Del Mar, Calif., claims he does make good use of his schooling.

"Many agencies will come to a client and say, 'Here's what you should do, " Mr. Yelsey says. "Our approach is to say, 'There are many opportunities. . .Here are the pros and cons of what we think are the most attractive options. And here's how we got that answer.' "

Mr. Yelsey, along with Mediaspot's VP, Kathy McLaughlin, opened the shop in 1991. It now has a staff of 13, billings of around $60 million and a reputation for unusual, cost-effective buys.

TOUGH AUDIENCE

For Millers Outpost, American Retail Group's Southern California clothing retailer targeted at teen-agers, which Mr. Yelsey calls "a very difficult-to-reach audience," Mediaspot did a long-term buy this year on beach trash barrels.

Three-and-a-half-foot high barrels on beaches throughout the L.A. area were wrapped with the Millers Outpost logo in a campaign which, given L.A.'s climate, is not limited to summer.

While Mr. Yelsey wouldn't reveal the media cost, it's said to be around $100,000.

The rationale behind this buy, Mr. Yelsey said, was to "provide a message for Millers Outpost in a very uncluttered environment. . . where there is a very heavy concentration of our audience."

Behind this and many of Mediaspot's other buys was the executives' belief that one rating point is not just as good as any other.

"You can reach millions more people on TV than through some of the media executions we've done" for Millers Outpost], Mr. Yelsey says. "But we felt that the media executions, even though they reach a smaller number, would break through."

Mr. Yelsey says the common thread among his clients is they are "interested in building their brand and having their media investment really support building the brand."

BUILDING BRAND FOR CHAIN

One Mediaspot client that's in a brand-building stage is Rubio's Baja Grill. The San Diego-based chain, which has 35 restaurants on the West Coast and in the Southwest, is known as the home of the fish taco-a San Diego favorite; indeed, the name of the chain had been Rubio's Fish Tacos.

But an obstacle blocking growth, according to Rubio's VP-Marketing Bruce Frazer, was that in a new market, a sign reading "Rubio's Fish Tacos" may not exactly draw a crowd.

The solution was the name change, a decision Mediaspot was involved in from the beginning.

"I called Arthur very shortly after the idea came up and got their input. . ." says Mr. Frazer. "Then we worked together to plan-'all right, in the markets we're in already, how are we gonna get the word out about the name change?' "

CONSULT WITHOUT CLIENT

As a further sign of Rubio's trust in Mediaspot, Mr. Frazer says it and creative agency Vitro Robertson, San Diego, have the green light to consult each other without a representative from Rubio's.

"Our clients tend to be in the range of under-$10 million media budgets. With that. . .you have to be really smart about how you invest those resources," says Mr. Yelsey.

Greg Stern, president of Millers Outpost's creative shop, Butler, Shine & Stern, Sausalito, Calif., says Mr. Yelsey meets that challenge.

"If you look in the dictionary under 'maven,' " he says, "you'll see a picture of Arthur Yelsey."

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