Alan Cohen

Exec VP-Managing Director, Initiative West

By Published on .

During the past two years, Alan Cohen was switching time zones as frequently as socks as exec VP-managing director for Initiative West, a group he was hired to spearhead. Based in Los Angeles but needed often in New York, Mr. Cohen, 51, was jetting from coast to coast on an almost weekly basis.
  • Wealth of experience marketing TV

  • Makes sure mobile fare drives video

But after Initiative CEO Alec Gerster announced in May that Mr. Cohen would lead the newly formed East Coast innovations unit, the frequent-flyer miles started to diminish. That doesn't mean the workload has gotten any lighter, however.

The increased demand for Mr. Cohen to help get the East Coast office off the ground is a direct result of the expanded client list he's brought to the group -- which CBS, Lionsgate Films and LucasArts -- and his three-pronged ad approach. "We're concerned with finding the right people to change what we think the game is all about: media, marketing and digital," he says.

As a result, more media plans coming out of Mr. Cohen's group are starting to resemble a Web 2.0 model than ever before. For Lionsgate's "Saw III," Mr. Cohen created a branded-content channel for mobile-entertainment company MobiTV and executed the first branded-entertainment deal for humor site ComedyTime to reach the film's target demo of young men. He also helped the CBS marketing team go viral with its content through the CBS Interactive group and its Joost partnership.

Marketing TV shows is familiar territory for Mr. Cohen, who spent 14 years hawking shows at NBC and six more at ABC, where, as exec VP of marketing and advertising, he promoted "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?"

His network background got the notice of George Schweitzer, CBS Marketing Group president.

"He was always a fierce competitor at ABC and NBC, so I'm glad we finally have him on the CBS team," says Mr. Schweitzer, who moved the CBS account to Initiative in 2006. "Alan is a fighter, and he certainly is a realist."

Such leadership qualities are what prompted Mr. Gerster to snag Mr. Cohen. "What you try to watch for ... is an ability to not just do what he does well but impact what other people do well. ... He was able to do both."

In addition to making frequent trips cross-country, Mr. Cohen has also been known to make random getaways to Tokyo to tour cellphone factories for a peek at the next generation of mobile entertainment. "To be creative, I just think you have to expose yourself to things nobody else is seeing," he says.
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