MEDIA MAVENS: CONSTRUCTION SAVVY PROVES OPTIMUM SKILL FOR DDB NEEDHAM: PAGE THOMPSON

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Page thompson, U.S. media director of DDB Needham Worldwide and president of Optimum Media, says his "claim to fame" is helping to build the international arrival terminal at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport when he worked a construction job to earn money for college.

But, ad industry observers say his real triumph is the construction of DDB Needham's Optimum Media.

DRIVING FORCE

Mr. Thompson was the driving force behind the consolidation of the agency's U.S. media buying-previously divided among six offices nationwide-into a single cohesive unit branded Optimum Media. Since first proposing the idea of consolidating media in 1994, the unit has expanded to 450 employees and places about $2 billion in media buys.

"The real point of differentiation [from other media operations] is we are based on ideas," says Mr. Thompson. "In today's environment, if you just buy [gross ratings points], you're going to lose."

It's Mr. Thompson's conception of those strategic and original ideas that impressed Optimum client Lands' End.

"For my money, Page is the most original thinker in the media business. He's brilliant," says Mike Atkin, VP-marketing at Lands' End.

RESEARCH STAR

Mr. Thompson says a commitment to research and tools, including a proprietary planning and buying application called OnCore, have helped. The OnCore system enables planners and buyers to determine audience ad receptiveness during a particular program.

"Our tools right now are superior in the marketplace," says Mr. Thompson. "OnCore looks at the audience and the viewing patterns of the audience."

OnCore examines prime time, early morning, daytime, late night and syndication, but Mr. Thompson says the system will be expanding into spot in the next six months and into cable in the next six to nine months.

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