For a guy who began his career at a media agency, ultimately absorbed by Universal McCann, it's a homecoming of sorts.
Mr. Wishart spent 11 years with Kraft Foods and ended up as president of Jacobs Suchard International. He joined VNU in 1999, first as exec VP of Spectra Marketing's retail-services group, where he developed systems for retailers to target consumer segments, and later became president of MediaPlan, the media-planning and -analytics group.
So when VNU, now Nielsen Co., went private in 2006 and sought to form a new business by linking holdings that ranged from retail sales data to TV ratings, Mr. Wishart was a natural fit to lead the effort.
"As a media person, I was realizing the media industry was looking for new ways to solve problems," Mr. Wishart says. "And as a marketer, I was realizing that ... you spend a lot of time and money [in-store] that I don't even think the agency and media folks realize."
Nielsen In-Store's Prism (Pioneering Research for an In-Store Metric) rolled out nationally in May, an outgrowth of an effort led by the In-Store Marketing Institute, Procter & Gamble Co., Wal-Mart Stores and Publicis Groupe's Starcom MediaVest Group to develop audience measurement for in-store marketing similar to that of other media.
Mr. Wishart, 52, combines the process orientation of a big-company executive with the drive of an entrepreneur, says Peter Hoyt, executive director of the institute.
"Something like this, because it's new and undefined, is complicated and hard to move forward," Mr. Hoyt says. "A lot of people don't like that, but George seems to thrive at it."
The Canadian native and father of three enjoys skiing and spending as much of the summer as possible at his vacation home on Lake Huron, north of Toronto. But Prism's rapid rollout is leaving him little time to relax.
"We're now treating it very much as an ongoing business as opposed to an incubation idea," Mr. Wishart says. One factor making it the biggest of the Nielsen Connect new-business initiatives is that it touches every type of Nielsen client, including the Big Four broadcast networks, all of which have units developing ventures in-store.
"To say it touches all of our clients," he says, "is no exaggeration."