By Published on .

Sports-minded bill Sheehan has got an advertising hit streak going.

He's been with the same advertising agency -- through its assorted mergers and name changes -- for 48 years. With tongue firmly in cheek, he'll tell you how he landed there.

"My mother brought me in [to the agency] for a diaper commercial," says Mr. Sheehan, senior VP-sports negotiations for Zenith Media Services, New York. "When I didn't poop on cue, she left me."

For Mr. Sheehan's clients, it doesn't matter how he got there -- or even if he missed his early mark.


His Zenith clients, Toyota Motor Sales USA, PaineWebber and others, have been counting on him to make key sports-advertising recommendations for more than four decades. He has had a stellar career putting numerous top-notch multi-level sports media and sponsorship deals together.

With a plethora of sports fighting for media attention, Mr. Sheehan's deals are especially valuable these days in grabbing big marquee value. For instance, Mr. Sheehan negotiated "The Toyota/Lexus Halftime Report," a long-term title sponsorship deal with ABC's "NFL Monday Night Football" on behalf of Toyota and its sister brand, Lexus.

"It has even more value now that the NFL doesn't allow in-game promotional enhancements," says Mr. Sheehan.

Recently, Toyota added a titled halftime report sponsorship for ESPN's "Sunday Night Football" to run during half time on nine of the season's 18 games.


Mr. Sheehan is also a Professor of Sports. For six years he's been teaching sports media and communications at New York University.

"It's a challenge. It's nice to be involved with the young adults," he says.

For almost 50 years, Mr. Sheehan has covered sports advertising from virtually every angle, including his first job as a projectionist for Dancer-Fitzgerald-Sample in 1951. In those early years, he also worked in trafficking, programming, as well as producing live commercials at baseball games.

"It was a more exciting time," he recalls. "All of sudden you'd have double play to end the inning, and you would rush the talent, "Quick! You're on camera! Pour the beer!"

Today, the excitement is in keeping up with the myriad of national and regional sports media outlets, which are all vying for Mr. Sheehan's attention, and which, he says, all deserve a look.

"We are going to see more global sports league operations, women sports, and Hispanic sports," he says. "Don't deny the regionals, either. [Atlantic Coast Conference and Southeastern Conference] college basketball, for instance, are

In this article:
Most Popular