PEOPLE: PLAYER OF THE WEEK: BETSY FRANK LEAPS FENCE FROM ZENITH TO MTV NETS: AFTER 19 YEARS, AGENCY VET TAKES CHALLENGE OF HEADING RESEARCH FOR CABLE GIANT

By Published on .

A high-profile ad agency veteran's decision to jump the fence last week to join the TV industry surprised many observers and raised the question of "Why now?"

Betsy Frank, 51, said she will leave her post as exec VP-director of strategic media resources at Zenith Media, New York, to become exec VP-research and development for cable's MTV Networks.

When Ms. Frank exits Zenith July 11, it will be 19 years and one day since she left Ted Bates Worldwide to join Dancer Fitzgerald Sample. DFS was later acquired by Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising, whose media arm became Zenith.

UNHAPPY AT ZENITH?

There has been some speculation Ms. Frank was unhappy Zenith didn't tap her to become chief of its U.S. operations; headhunters are known to have contacted a number of media executives about the vacant post.

But, said Ms. Frank, "I've actually been considering this opportunity at MTV since last fall. I was looking forward. . . . I believe in Zenith. I was perfectly happy, and would have been perfectly happy to do the job I was doing for another 19 years."

She added she never considered taking a job at another ad agency. "If you've done it once, and had the best job doing it, why would you want to do it again?" she asked. "I just would never consider that."

As excited as Ms. Frank said she is about her new job at MTV, she conceded she will miss her trademark annual prognostications on the new TV season. Her ability to articulate what advertisers and consumers look for in new shows has been profiled in such places as "The Living Arts" section of The New York Times, and she has made numerous TV appearances on shows like ABC's "Nightline."

"I'm certainly going to miss the reports on the new season," Ms. Frank said. "There's something about the new season that gives you hope that another 'ER' or another 'Touched by an Angel' will emerge, something that will set all the pundits back on their heels-that the right program will bring people to the television set."

SETTING STRATEGIES AT MTV

Besides giving up her crystal ball, Ms. Frank said her new role at MTV won't really be that much different than what she did at Zenith.

"I'll still be following consumers and how they use this changing and evolving medium," she said. "I'll be responsible for setting strategies for research across all the MTV Networks."

Besides MTV, the company's other wholly owned networks are VH1, Nickelodeon and Nickelodeon's TV Land.

Part of Ms. Frank's mandate is to create a state-of-the-art research department at MTV Networks.

"While I have an intellectual curiosity about things, my experience has been pragmatic," she said. "You do research so it enables you to make business decisions with the ultimate goal of increasing viewership for the MTV Networks both here and around the world."

The other part of Ms. Frank's role is business development, assessing new-business opportunities that fit with the existing brands. "That's exciting for me," she said. "It enables me to stretch beyond pure research."

In this article:
Most Popular