Philips Brand Exec Eric Plaskonos Leaves for Harman

Pushed Unusual Media Takeovers to Demonstrate 'Simplicity' Theme

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NEW YORK ( -- Eric Plaskonos, the marketing executive who taught advertisers a lesson in forcing traditional media outlets to embrace new ad concepts, has left the company where he put some of his best-known work into practice.
Eric Plaskonos
Eric Plaskonos Credit: Scott Gries

Mr. Plaskonos, formerly director-brand communications for Philips North America, said he has "moved on" to become VP-marketing services for Harman International, a company that specializes in manufacturing audio and infotainment products.

Quitting while ahead
"It was a good time, personally, for me to make a move and look for a new opportunity to build a brand in the U.S. and globally," Mr. Plaskonos said.

Between the fall of 2005 and the spring of 2007, Mr. Plaskonos was instrumental in promoting Philips' ability to make life more simple by running ad campaigns that did the same for consumers. In October 2005, for instance, Philips purchased all the national ad time during CBS's "60 Minutes" and let the news show have longer program segments and run fewer ads. He put similar efforts into practice on "NBC Nightly News" and a college-football broadcast on Time Warner's TBS cable network.

Likewise, in the summer of 2006, Philips paid Hearst Magazines $2 million to drop subscription cards from the September issues of Redbook, O At Home, Weekend and House Beautiful.

Many of Philips' promotional gambits forced media outlets to admit that, more often than not, the formats they use to run ads interfere with a consumer's enjoyment of their product. Philips even squared off against cinema-advertising company Screenvision in the spring of 2006, hoping to eliminate commercials running before movies in certain theaters -- then point out that it had done so with a 15-second bumper. Screenvision declined, not thrilled with the idea of a promotion that poked fun at the way it ran advertisements.

"We are finding that the status quo is a difficult hurdle to leap," Mr. Plaskonos told The Wall Street Journal at the time. Advertising Age named Mr. Plaskonos a Media Maven in 2007.

Philips shifts to B-to-B
These days, Philips is placing more emphasis on business-to-business advertising, said Terry Fassburg, VP-communications for Philips North America. After the company acquired a lighting concern as well as a home health-care unit, "we are much more of a B-to-B company ... so that changes the fundamental nature" of how the company will be advertising.

Jim Hunter, a VP-marketing for Philips' lighting operations, will also have the title of area marketing officer, which will include Mr. Plaskonos' previous duties.

Mr. Fassburg also said Philips' corporate-marketing operations had moved to Andover, Mass., and said Mr. Plaskonos "quite understandably didn't want to make the move." Mr. Plaskonos' new position is based in Stamford, Conn.

Since their debut, Mr. Plaskonos' ideas have gained traction elsewhere. News Corp.'s Fox network recently unveiled its intention to run fewer ads and promos during two of its most anticipated fall programs: "Fringe," sci-fi drama from noted producer J.J. Abrams, and "Dollhouse," a new drama from Joss Whedon, the creative force behind "Buffy the Vampire Slayer."
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