awards $20 mil account to MediaSmith

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Most Popular's $15 million to $20 million media buying and planning account landed at MediaSmith, New York, without a review. The new-business win is the first for the recently launched New York office of MediaSmith, run by Michael Drexler, the former executive media director at FCB Worldwide.

"MediaSmith has a broad range of experience, capacity and talent, which lines up neatly with our integrated media approach," said Chairman-CEO Lou Dobbs., a site that specializes in news and entertainment about space exploration, awarded the account to MediaSmith specifically because of its expertise in off-line and online advertising, said Barry Frey, senior VP-sales and marketing.

MediaSmith claims billings of $100 million at its San Francisco headquarters, where it has 45 employees. The New York office currently has five employees.

"MediaSmith is the best partner to strategically manage our business," said Mr. Frey.


The site plans to launch a fully integrated campaign by yearend featuring print, broadcast and online advertising. "Both offline and online media are creating new opportunities for cross-selling and integrated packages," said Mr. Drexler, exec VP at MediaSmith., has yet to select a brand agency after putting its creative account in review in September. Mr. Dobbs said his company is still early in that process. The incumbent shop is the Wolf Group, New York, which created a 60-second TV spot that broke nationally last week. The campaign tagline: "Something amazing every day." MediaSmith will take over media buying for that campaign.

"The idea of space travel has always fascinated me," said Mr. Dobbs, who launched the company last year after a high-profile career as a business news anchor at CNN. "When I was a kid, my buddies and I used to build rockets."

Mr. Dobbs had been at CNN for 20 years, but left last year to work at's ad budget is surprisingly high considering the rocky period the company went through earlier this year -- and the dismal dot-com market. The company eliminated 22 jobs, or about 20% of its work force, last month, less than a week after the resignation of former astronaut Sally Ride, who had signed on as president a year earlier. The company said the layoffs had no connection to Ms. Ride's departure; she said she left to pursue her interests in science education.

Mr. Dobbs said the cutbacks occurred to cover expenses involved in purchasing several new print publications. raised $60 million from investors including NBC; Venrock, the venture capital arm of the Rockefeller family; and Greylock, a private venture-capital firm. Gannett Co. also purchased an equity stake in the business last month. Under that agreement, acquired the Space News, along with its site and Florida Today's Space Online Web site. Gannett's equity stake included an undisclosed cash investment, and in-kind marketing and promotional support from its media assets, including USA Today, and the company's regional newspapers, broadcast outlets and Internet properties.

In addition to its Internet site, has a broadband channel, Space TV, on the Network. The company also publishes a new consumer magazine, Space Illustrated, and owns Space Business International, a business-to-business publication based in London. The company also publishes Starry Night, a software line for amateur astronomers. plans to eventually produce broadcast content as well.

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