MEDIA MAVENS: 'GREAT PEOPLE LEADER' ENSURES Y&R UNIT CONSOLIDATION WORKS : BETH GORDON

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Among all the papers strewn about Beth Gordon's office is a copy of "The Perfect Storm," a best seller about a New England storm and the ships that fought through it. She has been too busy to read the book yet, but surely it would ring a bell, given the navigational skill she has had to demonstrate as president of Media Edge.

Ms. Gordon is making a return engagement as a Media Maven, after handling the separation of Media Edge from its parent N.W. Ayer & Partners, New York, in 1995 and its sale to Young & Rubicam, New York, when Ayer was sold to MacManus Group a year later. This year, she topped herself when she landed the top spot in Y&R's consolidation of all media buying under Media Edge.

Media Edge continued its progress recently when it picked up another marquee account, the $90 million media assignment for pharmaceutical marketer Glaxo Wellcome.

CONCENTRATED FOCUS

With the consolidation, Ms. Gordon, 47, becomes the maven in Y&R's media efforts, with buying for Y&R Advertising and Wunderman Worldwide concentrated under Media Edge, while the planning divisions of Media Edge, Y&R and Wunderman will remain separate.

The consolidation has been expected since Y&R acquired Media Edge for about $3.5 million last year.

With the combination of the units, Y&R will be able to leverage the clout of more than $2 billion annually in media buying from Y&R's combined subsidiaries.

Media companies need size, both as leverage and to rationalize investment in new research and development of buying-and-planning systems such as optimizers, Ms. Gordon says. Y&R understands this and is giving Media Edge an opportunity to flourish independently-an important consideration in the sale, she says.

ENJOYS INDEPENDENCE

"They realize media is a business. The old model of media as a service to the agency.*.*.everybody realizes that it's not," she says. "I wouldn't be doing this if I didn't feel we're going to retain our independence."

At the time of the sale to Y&R, insiders speculated that Media Edge could have fetched a higher price if it had not depended so much on its primary client, AT&T Corp.-representing about $300 million in ad placements.

While AT&T will remain a key client and was a factor in Media Edge's ability to move from Ayer to Y&R, Media Edge wants to continue diversifying its client base, including buying for other agencies, a practice started after the spinoff from Ayer.

Merging the staffs of the Y&R shops and Media Edge will be a challenge, especially since many of Media Edge's senior staffers have been together for almost 20 years. But their respective cultures are not that far apart, says Ms. Gordon, noting that she worked for nine years with Bob Igiel, exec VP-director of broadcast for Y&R Advertising, and that Media Edge's team on the AT&T account also has worked with Y&R's AT&T team.

PRAISED FOR LEADERSHIP

In fact, observers praise Ms. Gordon's ability to lead her team through every situation.

"She's a great thought leader and a great people leader and she inspires people

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