MDC-owned media agency Assembly has hired its first-ever president, Steven Feuling.
Feuling, a former Vizeum CEO who most recently led Bloomberg Media's business-to-business marketing services group, started early last week and jumped in on a pitch the next day. "A good pitch, by the way," he says. And it felt just like old times. "It was like oxygen. It was so much fun."
We talked to Feuling and his new partner-in-crime, Assembly CEO Martin Cass, about the new gig and learned a few things the ad world might not know about the new president of Ad Age's Media Agency of the Year.
1. Cass and Feuling have a history. The two were introduced by a mutual friend while Feuling was running the demand strategy group at Yahoo about nine years ago. "I said I would never go back to the agency business," he says. But after the connection to Cass, "Seventy-two hours later I was in New York having breakfast at Pershing Square and he was making a job offer to come work with him at Carat." Feuling held various roles within Dentsu Aegis Network, including U.S. chief client officer at Carat, U.S. CEO of Vizeum and global client president for the network in the U.S..
2. He's from Wisconsin — a proud University of Wisconsin-Madison Badger. But he's no snow bunny. He doesn't know how to skate, and he's not a fan of winter.
3. His first adult job was in Chicago at Arthur Andersen. He caught the marketing bug there after working on international strategy for client Miller Brewing Co. But his first-ever job was at County Seat, a clothing retailer that sold Levi's jeans.
4. He's the youngest of eight kids.
5. He studied engineering as an undergrad. But Feuling had no plans of getting a job in the field. "Engineering is phenomenal (for) solving problems," Feuling says. "I went there and learned the problem-solving stuff. But I never, ever, ever wanted to be an engineer."
6. He watches an episode of "Golden Girls" every night before bed. His all-time favorite episode is "Bringing Up Baby," in which Rose gets her uncle's inheritance — a pig named Baby. "My mother looked and acted just like Bea Arthur," he says.
7. Feuling worked at the Walt Disney Co. on a team that launched Disney products for adults, including higher-end collectibles. As part of the management training program, he had to dress as a character. He was Robin Hood's "Little John." "It's so hot" in that costume, he said. "You can't even believe how hard it is to do that."
8. Part of his mission will be helping out as the Assembly eyes international expansion. He also wants to keep a focus on current clients while winning new business -- and ensure the agency stays true to its building blocks of transparency, data and technology and culture as it grows.
9. Cass says he'd been waging a drip campaign on Feuling for the better part of three years as Assembly kept getting bigger. "I needed someone to partner with. One of my first calls was to Steve," Cass says. "We kept kind of staying in touch, and I kept saying, 'We're doing something really interesting here.'" Feuling was convinced last fall when he helped the agency out on a short-term assignment and saw from the inside how the agency was doing things.
10. Feuling loves to cook. "I'm a basics guy," he says. "I can roast a phenomenal chicken."