Madison+Vine: Riesenberg heads Omnicom unit

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Responding to marketers' growing interest in branded entertainment, Omnicom Group is creating a stand-alone unit within its media group that will create properties across entertainment platforms-and it's hired an industry top gun to run it.

Robert Riesenberg, chief of Interpublic Group of Cos.' Magna Global Entertainment and respected TV producer whose credits include NBC's "The Restaurant" and TNT's Emmy-winning Johnson & Johnson Spotlight Presentation series, will be the CEO of the unit, which is currently unnamed.

Mr. Riesenberg's charge, beginning Feb. 1, will be to evolve the holding company's business model from fee-based branded-entertainment packager and marketing-services entity to the potentially more lucrative model of branded-entertainment producer. The goal is to open up back-end annuity revenue streams-such as subscription video on demand, DVDs and syndication-for the holding company and its clients.

Omnicom Media Group, run by CEO Daryl Simm, encompasses Omnicom's media services companies OMD and PHD. Mr. Riesenberg's unit will collaborate with these units.

"Robert has a unique ability to secure programming that is relevant to brands, but he also knows what the networks need and he's able to match them up. He knows all of the major show runners and producers of programming and that's a key ingredient," said Bruce Redditt, exec VP at Omnicom.


In addition to hearing pitches from Hollywood and developing his own ideas, Mr. Riesenberg will also partner with other important entertainment players at Omnicom, like Davie-Brown Entertainment and Radiate Group.

"A good idea can come from anywhere. It could come from [OMD Entertainment executive] Guy McCarter or [Davie-Brown President] Tera Hanks," said Mr. Redditt. He went on to stress that other Omnicom units would continue to develop their own projects outside the unit.

One of his biggest challenges will be to cultivate relationships with Omnicom executives and smooth over any ruffled feathers of players who may have been angling for an expanded role at the holding company.

One Omnicom executive, who requested anonymity, said, "I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt and will take a wait-and-see approach."

Reaction from Hollywood was enthusiastic. "It's the perfect match. Bob is the only one out there who delivers the kind of numbers and the return on investment for clients. And there is no other holding company that has made bigger strides in this business than Omnicom," said Mitch Kanner, partner at Integrated Entertainment Partners.

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