MEDIA MAVENS;'STREET FIGHTING' SKILLS ROUND OUT WRITING, TV BUYING EXPERTISE

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One of the most powerful agency media executives on the West Coast says he thinks of himself as a hotel staff member.

"I'm the concierge, an eccentric concierge," says Chuck Bachrach, exec VP-media resources, Rubin Postaer & Associates, Santa Monica, Calif.

"Whatever [agency president-CEO] Jerry [Rubin] needs, I do. I get," he quips, even if that includes things like tickets to football games.

But don't be fooled by that lowly hired-hand stuff. Mr. Bachrach buys $342 million in media and has helped build some of the best media operations in the country, including crosstown media independent Western International Media, where he was president of the syndication division before joining Rubin Postaer in 1990.

"It isn't about clout, it's about relationships," says Mr. Bachrach, known to send flowers for births and birthdays. "If the relationship is good, we get the first call. The percentage I paid on upfront buys will stand up with anyone in Chicago or New York."

At Rubin Postaer &*Associates, he has become one of the few network buyers who have moved into the more general arena of media director. His peers call him "a street fighter," who is "smart and aggressive and a negotiator by training."

Mr. Bachrach believes he needs those fighting skills because Rubin's biggest client is American Honda Motor Co. and he needs to be much more visible than a Civic hatchback in a stadium parking lot.

`FIGHT TO BE SEEN'

"I've got to fight to be seen. Our motto is to be the only car in the parking lot," he says.

He's doing that by using skills he honed at his first jobs out of college in TV production.

This fall, Honda, Rubin's largest client, aired Mr. Bachrach's most recent effort, a 30-minute program called "Grill Me Presented by Honda," on USA Network. It could become a regular series.

The program, initially airing in late night to capture the Honda del Sol's target of young adults, poses pop culture questions to celebrities whose winnings go to charity. Question categories include "Silence of the Lamb Chops" and "Ike and Tina Tuna."

PRELUDE TO HOOPS

Previously, the executive created a one-hour stand-up special on Comedy Central titled "Comedy del Sol." When CBS planned to cancel its pre-NCAA basketball championship game show, Honda developed the program, which is now called "Prelude to a Championship," in honor of the car of the same name.

"We're the only car in the lot before General Motors" and other marketers take over that sporting event, he says.

Still, Mr. Bachrach's ultimate visibility test comes this fall. Rubin is locked in a four-way battle for Honda's $120 million Acura account, a pitch that began with a renewed look at media buying under consultant Herb Zeltner, who pursued media cost-cutting measures for Walt Disney Co. last year.

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