His prior experience from the production side of the TV business gives him extra insight into the minds of those who make and sell TV programs. The respect he commands from those in the industry has helped stabilize a once-beleaguered media department at Y&R's New York office.
"He speaks the same language as the producers," says Marvin Goldsmith, president of sales and marketing at ABC. "Bob is honest and creative, a terrific negotiator."
One of Mr. Igiel's most prized projects, for instance: the "AT&T Presents" series he oversaw in the early '80s as part of a seven-year stint at Ayer.
Forget about the fact he had sewn up hours of network time with a show that carried the brand's name in the title-that's old hat for a man who practically invented the multimillion-dollar miniseries sponsorship. He actually created Emmy-winning dramas like "Inherit the Wind," serving as executive producer.
Having spent five years at Y&R ending in 1982, Mr. Igiel returned to the shop as its exec VP-director of broadcast 18 months ago.
The hiring came at the right time; Y&R was developing a reputation for lacking media direction after years of defections and firings of top media executives.
Y&R lured Mr. Igiel away from his senior VP post at the cable network Arts & Entertainment, which he joined in 1989. It was at A&E where he sharpened an eye for evaluating programming that's kept TV network brass calling his office to bounce ideas off him.
"It's the kind of experience you really need to get into this business," he says. "If you don't understand it, how can you understand what you're buying? When I call a Warren Littlefield [NBC Entertainment president] or a Ted Harbert [ABC Entertainment president], they understand that I understand."
As do KFC Corp., Xerox Corp., Clorox Co. and other big-brand clients he handles now.
Mr. Igiel is nothing like the Hollywood hot shots he has worked with, but rubbing shoulders with them has definitely rubbed off on him: he has a flair for the blockbuster marketing blitz.
When Y&R broke ads last year for the Mystique, from Ford Motor Co.'s Lincoln-Mercury Division, he secured auto exclusivity for NBC's prime-time powerhouse lineup on the Thursday the car was launched. Some 14 network spots in three hours were backed by a multiple-page splash in USA Today and 100 runs of billboards and 300 runs of regular spots in five days on cable and other networks.
Clearly, he relishes the task. Asked how a veteran like himself is facing down other media challenges, like adapting to interactive vehicles, he laughs. He was in the business when his mentors were trying to figure out a medium called TV.