A few tips for Rosenthal as he enters a new world

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Fix a pair of struggling media networks in danger of getting lapped by the competition. Hire a couple of top executives to fill voids in their leadership ranks. Figure out how to better package the whole thing to existing and prospective clients. And raise morale following a couple years of massive client losses, including Coca-Cola Co., Nestle, Unilever and, most recently, General Motors Corp.

Welcome to the agency world, Mark Rosenthal. Here's your to-do list.

The learning curve for the new role as chairman-CEO of Interpublic's media operations is going to be steep and the list of challenges a long one, especially for someone in his first agency job. But your new boss is betting that a long tenure at MTV Networks, where you rose to president-chief operating officer of a Viacom unit that's almost as large as Interpublic, and first-hand knowledge of the fragmenting media landscape will help you get the job done.


You were, after all, there at the origin of the era in media history that's seen the decay of the power of network TV and the rise of myriad cable channels, and more lately, the Internet, the third screen, video-on-demand and podcasts. MTV properties like Comedy Central, VH1 and Nickelodeon have thrived on niche audiences.

While your excellence in the back-office, operational nitty gritty and your well-known toughness as a negotiator will serve you well, a key challenge is to figure out how to be a much-needed front man for a collection of properties that includes Universal McCann, Initiative Worldwide and the negotiating unit Magna Global. Other, more tactical concerns include exactly what the new media structure will be like. Will it be the holding company within the holding company that WPP employs with GroupM? Or will you lean to a less rigid structure that resembles the Publicis media advisory board?

The key, though, as media sellers and your new rivals alike say, is having a single person responsible for the whole of Interpublic's media properties. And many say a single P&L for all the media agencies is absolutely crucial. So is marketing sophisticated solutions that don't rely on TV.

Marketers are clamoring for guidance on how to negotiate the new media landscape and they have little time for agency partners that can't help them. Last week, GM's decision to move its $3.5 billion media-buying account to Publicis Groupe's Starcom MediaVest Group and Planworks unit was billed as much as a search for new ideas on how it goes to market as it was a cost-savings initiative.

Your new role will make you the face of accountability for clients and put you in the position to offer holding-company level media solutions to marketers who want them. Other holding companies, especially WPP Group and Publicis Groupe, which snatched the GM work, have excelled in this department. Interpublic seems to have fallen behind.

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