NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- It's ironic that Seth Kaufman is a media maven, because he's not necessarily a media guy by training. The director-media strategy and investment for PepsiCo Beverages Americas is a marketer, a general manager, a specialist in shopper insights, even an adjunct professor. But when it comes to media, his direct experience was somewhat limited, including a stint in media sales for a company that represented radio stations. That, said Dave Burwick, a former PepsiCo executive who is now president-North America at Weight Watchers, is what made Mr. Kaufman perfect for the job.
"I was looking for someone with a completely new perspective in media who wasn't closely connected to anything we'd done before, someone who was willing to think differently and reinvent how we did media," Mr. Burwick said. "He had to step in and go toe to toe with senior management and agencies. He had to really carry the flag up the hill for our ideas."
Mr. Kaufman has been doing just that since agreeing to take on the role in January 2009. To start, he rebuilt and expanded PepsiCo's media team. Under the previous regime, the team was organized into national media, local media and digital media. It was a "tactical, check-the-box kind of group," Mr. Kaufman said. Now, the team, which has more than doubled in size, is made up of a mix of "marketers who get media" and "media specialists who are strategic," he said. The team is also aligned by brand, with members of the media team expected to sit in on brand staff meetings.
Those changes have resulted in a group that has been behind some of the most-interesting media deals of the past two years. There was the Pepsi Max "video-in-print" ad that ran in Entertainment Weekly and promoted CBS's Monday night lineup, and, more recently, the development and execution of the custom media efforts for the Pepsi Refresh Project.
But Mr. Kaufman isn't content to just think about groundbreaking media deals. He wants to cultivate new media, communications and technology startups through PepsiCo10. The incubator program, which he helped develop and launch earlier this year, quickly attracted about 400 submissions from startup companies. Earlier this month, PepsiCo announced 10 finalists that will be working with the marketer on pilot programs with various brands.
"We thought, 'Why not get involved with these companies before they scale?'" Mr. Kaufman said. "We felt like we could enable them to succeed but also be on the forefront of engaging our consumers. And we could peek under the tent of the hottest stuff out there. It's a competitive advantage."