Women to Watch 2009

Andrea Kerr Redniss

Senior VP-Managing Director, Optimedia

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Andrea Kerr Redniss doesn't Twitter much; she's not a self-styled social-media "expert"; and sometimes she even -- gasp -- shuts down her BlackBerry. Yet she's a big reason Publicis Groupe's Optimedia has become one of the holding company's most digital agencies, with digital accounting for a third of all billings.

Andrea Kerr Redniss

Ms. Redniss has been watching Hulu in her living room for the past year and is an avid observer of the nervous dance between the TV networks and the likes of Hulu, Comcast and Boxee. At 32, Ms. Redniss is young enough to be considered a digital native, but she's been in the business long enough to know how TV works -- that and she doesn't believe digital is always the answer.

"There are two types of digital people: those that try to make it more complicated and those that keep it simple," she said. Ms. Redniss puts herself firmly in the latter camp, which makes her less a digital-media enthusiast than what CEO Antony Young believes is the model for the next-generation media executive.

"There is a digital snobbery or elitism you see, particularly those who run digital and the disciplines. We don't have that at Optimedia," Mr. Young said. "She sits right next to head of broadcast, and they're constantly talking about ways they can collaborate."

You could say Ms. Redniss was born into the advertising business. Her father owned an agency for a time in Dayton, Ohio, and as a preschooler she starred in regional commercials for Lee's Famous Recipe, sitting around a table with a fictional family eating fried chicken. Her father ultimately left the business, but Ms. Redniss found it again on her own, subscribed to Ad Age in college and landed at Cramer-Krasselt in Chicago.

Beyond digital
Like a lot of those starting out in the late '90s, Ms. Redniss gravitated toward digital because it was work no one else wanted, with tiny budgets attached to it. Ms. Redniss joined Interpublic, where she led one of their digital divisions, ID Media, and worked on accounts such as Computer Associates, Purina, Subaru and Nikon. She moved to Optimedia in 2007 in part because she wanted to move out of the walled garden of digital and into something more multidisciplinary.

"A lot of clients we're working with don't have digital budgets and traditional media budgets; they have a total media budget," Mr. Young said. "They look to us to decide not what to do in digital but how digital should fit into the plan."

Now she leads digital for Optimedia, overseeing accounts such as T-Mobile, Whirlpool and Payless. For T-Mobile, she handles direct response, online and offline branding, plus T-Mobile's relationship with the NBA and in-game product placement in Take-Two's "NBA 2K9."

"For years it was about digital conforming with the old world," she said. "I think now I'm starting to see the shift where people are starting to explain the other media channels in digital terms."

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