PLAYER PROFILE: Salvatore reaches summit as Bcom3's MediaVest CEO

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Donna salvatore is the only woman at the helm of one of the top 10 media agencies in the world. She was recently named CEO of MediaVest USA, which claims about $3 billion in billings and comprises one-half of Bcom3 Group's media services division, Starcom MediaVest Group.

How does it feel to be a woman on top? "It gets to the point where you don't have enough time to think about whether it's male or female. It's all about just getting the job done."


Ms. Salvatore, 47, has been getting the job done since 1978, when she started in the business at N W Ayer, New York, as a group assistant in the national TV department. She landed at Benton & Bowles, New York, in 1981, and began working for Irwin Gotlieb, who headed the media department at that time. "I've been here ever since, through all the name changes," she said. "And there have been a lot of them."

In 1993, the media department separated from Benton & Bowles and became TeleVest, with Mr. Gotlieb as chairman-CEO. During that period, TeleVest was involved in two of the largest ad industry account consolidations of the time. First, Procter & Gamble Co. delivered all its national broadcast media buying to TeleVest. Then, in 1998, P&G consolidated its local, spot and syndicated TV buying at TeleVest, along with some strategic planning. A year later, TeleVest picked up P&G's radio and Hispanic advertising. The wins brought the entire P&G budget at MediaVest to approximately $1.2 billion.

In 1999, TeleVest combined with the media operations of its parent company, the MacManus Group, launching MediaVest Worldwide. Shortly thereafter, the architect of that merger, Mr. Gotlieb, left to take the helm of WPP's MindShare. MediaVest went through a series of temporary CEOs, even while it was once again merging, this time with Starcom.

Ms. Salvatore weathered it all, working on almost every type of business from candy (M&M/Mars), to oil (Texaco), to chain saws (McCulloch Corp.). She's worked on P&G since 1984, on Kraft Foods since 1982 and on the Diageo business,since the account was just Burger King Corp.


"Donna is an icon, not just because of the number of years she has been in this business, but also because of the work that she's done," said Kevin Malloy, exec VP-international operations for parent Starcom MediaVest Group.

Moreover, Ms. Salvatore has been on hand for some of the largest ad deals in the industry's history. Not only was she part of the P&G consolidation, but most recently she had a hand in Starcom MediaVest's record-breaking win of the $2.9 billion consolidated General Motors Corp. media planning business.

"The way the GM pitch was done it was the combined efforts and talents of MediaVest and Starcom," Ms. Salvatore said.

"We took the talent that worked on the General Motors account from both organizations and we will build upon that talent base as part of Planworks," the newly created media planning agency dedicated to GM advertising, she said.

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