Irwin Gotlieb, the newly named worldwide and USA chairman-CEO of WPP Group's MindShare, would bristle at the scuttlebutt, claiming that P&G clearly felt TeleVest had the best presentation and systems, or the marketer would not have awarded the account to the agency.
As to his own importance in the pitch, he would say, "Look, I'm not the P&G person here; and the other shops have very capable personnel as well."
But, truth be told, Mr. Gotlieb, who was then president-CEO of TeleVest, is considered by many media executives to be a brilliant media strategist and tactician and his personal importance to clients is nothing to be scoffed at.
As Chris Jones, New York-based CEO of J. Walter Thompson Co. said two weeks ago when Mr. Gotlieb was tapped to run MindShare, if what the organization needed to fulfill its potential was world-class leadership, "I think we just got it."
To the surprise of many, Mr. Gotlieb, 50, was born in China and raised in Japan. By 1970, he had made his way to New York and began working in the advertising business.
Mr. Gotlieb was computer-savvy long before it was either fashionable or a necessity. He cut his major media chops at SSC&B, New York, which he joined in 1972.
Twenty-two years ago he moved over to Benton & Bowles, which later became DMB&B. In 1993, Mr. Gotlieb created that shop's media spinoff, TeleVest, which changed its name to Media-Vest Worldwide in February.
Four years ago, when Advertising Age named Mr. Gotlieb a Media Maven, he said TeleVest doesn't just buy media, it "manages our clients' investments in national broadcast media with portfolio management techniques."
Today, he is singing that same tune; in accepting the MindShare job, he cites the increasing complexity of "media investment management."
At MindShare, all of Mr. Gotlieb's people skills and systems expertise will be tested. He has to meld the disparate media department cultures of Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide and JWT, and become familiar and comfortable with the culture of parent WPP.
"I think he's up to the task," says one network TV executive who's betting on Mr. Gotlieb to be successful. "He analyzes well, and always has a fall-back position. He's a good listener, and he's soft-spoken, which can help to diffuse conflict. Is he entering a minefield? Yes. But I think he can negotiate his way