Recently named to the new post of exec VP-worldwide account director at FCB Worldwide, New York, Mr. Kessler, 40, is responsible for directing the AT&T account globally throughout the agency's domestic and worldwide network. FCB, which shares the mammoth telecom account with Y&R Advertising, New York, handles AT&T's wireless, collect, youth and college advertising and some brand advertising.
Mr. Kessler comes to FCB after four years at Lowe Lintas & Partners Worldwide, where most recently he was exec VP-group account director on the global 3Com Corp. business and RCN Corp. He also headed up the Sony Electronics account when it was at Lowe & Partners/SMS. He led the agency's push to secure dot-com clients such as drkoop.com, HaggleZone, MapQuest and NetMarket, and survived the dot-com boom/bust, along with a roller-coaster era at Lowe that included the loss of Mercedes-Benz North America and management flameouts.
INTEREST IN TECHNOLOGY
The one constant has been Mr. Kessler's interest in technology and his mission of making great advertising. Both are sure to be assets in the volatile telecommunications arena he's entering.
"My passion and interest has always been in the area of technology. I intuitively understand it," he said. Mr. Kessler graduated from Rutgers University with a B.S. in engineering but never became a practicing engineer. The background, however, gave him a leg up on the 3Com, RCN and Sony accounts.
"I was involved in technology at a time when everyone said you have to get package-goods [account] experience," Mr. Kessler said. But he didn't skip over traditional accounts. During his first job in advertising, at the now-defunct Levine, Huntley, Schmidt & Beaver, he worked on Konica USA, Kroenenbourg Beer and Subaru of America.
Mr. Kessler cited Lowe's 1997 brand launch for Sony and the 3Com win from FCB as career highlights. "I was also very much involved in getting account planning as integrated as it is today."
Now, as he ramps up on all aspects of the AT&T business, Mr. Kessler said he will deploy FCB's entire network and key proprietary resources on the account. Hardly a day goes by when AT&T's business challenges and its future don't make news. With the potential spinoff of AT&T's consumer long distance business, which is handled by Y&R, the ramp-up of its broadband business and other initiatives, FCB is devising multiple ad and marketing scenarios to accommodate the moving-target nature of AT&T's goals.
"I think what we have to develop, on a daily basis, [are] various scenarios based on how business models are changing and project them out over 12 to 18 months," Mr. Kessler said. "This is a business that's clearly in transition. Twenty to 30 years ago, AT&T was leading; now it's at the back end looking at ways to position itself as the forward edge" of communications.