Western Initiative Media Worldwide is beefing up its New York office, a move seen as clearly challenging Carat USA.
Andrew Sharp, director of marketing and communications in Initiative's London office, is moving to the U.S. in a yet-to-be titled post. Mr. Sharp, 44, is well-known in the U.K. as an expert in modeling tools and statistical techniques in media buying and planning.
Joining Mr. Sharp in the Big Apple as chief strategic officer will be Cheryl Idell, now exec VP-managing director of research and strategic planning in the agency's West Hollywood, Calif., headquarters.
As media outlets become more fragmented, advertisers are looking for the best vehicles to reach their targets as well as ways to make media more accountable. Western's move is to address these concerns.
Mr. Sharp did not return phone calls. But in a recent self-assessment of his work sent to Western's offices in the U.S., he wrote: "The rapid innovation in communication needs to be matched by an equal effort to innovate new forms of technique appraisal. My approach has been to treat marketing as a form of investment. This has led me to adapt modern financial disciplines and apply them to the task of screening between communication options."
Most recently, Mr. Sharp developed various software tools to improve media planning.
Carat's claim to fame in Europe has been its proprietary research tools, and the media giant has started to export those skills to its fledgling U.S. operation.
And it has begun to make serious headway in the U.S., picking up the $200 million Pfizer account late last year. The consultant on that review said Carat's research ability was a major reason it won.
Research is a strong suit of Western's Mr. Sharp.
FOCUSING ON STRATEGY
"Andrew is an acknowledged leader in econometric modeling," said Michael Kassan, Western's president. "Working with Cheryl, he will customize media tools for our clients here. We are increasingly focusing on the strategic side of the business."
Mr. Kassan said moving the executives to New York is also an acknowledgment "of the importance we feel New York is to many multinational clients. It's a more central location for us as we became a truly global company at the beginning of the year when we joined Western and Initiative."
Ms. Idell, 35, taking her new post in June, plans to work closely with the company's planning directors and regional managing directors.
Copyright May 1999, Crain Communications Inc.