BATAVIA, Ohio (AdAge.com) -- When Marc Fonzetti came to Reckitt Benckiser three years ago as advertising manager-internet specialist, the company didn't even have a digital media agency, and did little digital advertising outside brand websites and an e-mail program.
By this year, Mr. Fonzetti led a shift of around 5% of RB's considerable TV ad budget into online video, with that $20 million making it overnight likely the biggest spender in the space.
It was the potential to have that kind of impact that attracted Mr. Fonzetti, 33, to RB in the first place, bringing him nearly full circle from where he started his career in the late 1990s.
Mr. Fonzetti was a planner for MediaVest working on Procter & Gamble from 1998 to 2000 and wanted to move into interactive media. But MediaVest had others working there, so he moved to interactive media shop iTraffic and later e-mail and affiliate marketing firm Mail Gravity.
"I saw the opportunity to really tie it all together [by coming to RB]," Mr. Fonzetti said. "I would be able to come in and have a lot of ownership of the web program."
Getting buy-in from RB's brands for the shift to online video "was tough and it should be tough," Mr. Fonzetti said, "because it's a massive change. There's this whole process of building the trust through research and small wins. Then once we're comfortable we make a big, quick decision."
He called the investment a "bold move," adding that it was necessary to follow the audience.
The first week of the program also marked the birth of his first child, he said. "I joked that I had two babies born that week, one that I carried for nine months and one that my wife carried for nine months."
It's still too early to tell if the video gambit has worked, he said, but he hopes it played a part in RB's first-half results, when the company led the package-goods industry in organic sales growth.
Tod Sacerdoti, CEO of online video ad network Brightroll, said he's impressed both by the size of the move Mr. Fonzetti has led and sophistication, which includes a new ad unit and customized research and auditing.
"We view Reckitt as just miles ahead of other advertisers," he said, adding, "This is a career-making move for Marc."
Mr. Fonzetti said he's far from done.
"We're also actively advertising in the other web components -- display, search, e-mail, social marketing," he said. "We hope to really push the envelope on those as well."
Those, too, will need to be vetted by research on smaller projects, he said, before a big plunge can be made.