The Player: Reiser mixes sports, creative with twofold role at Cossette

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Robert Reiser's reputation as a die-hard baseball fan is well-known. In his last job as a deputy creative director at Interpublic Group of Cos.' Lowe, New York, the half-serious lore among his underlings was, "If you want to sell a campaign to Bobby, make sure there's a baseball execution in it."

At Cossette Post, New York, a subsidiary of Canadian marketing communications company Cossette Communications, Mr. Reiser takes on a dual role: In addition to leading the 20-person creative team, he is a partner in ThinkingSports, a sports-marketing firm structured as a joint venture with Cossette Post. The arrangement allows Mr. Reiser to explore two serious interests-creative and sports.

As chief creative officer, Mr. Reiser oversees a group led by creative director Steve Crane. While it is several times smaller than Lowe's 100-person department, the new group "has a lot of levers for me to pull, including interactive, direct-and-relationship marketing, general advertising and now sports marketing," Mr. Reiser said.

He credits former Lowe boss Gary Goldsmith with giving him an appreciation for distilling big presentations into one precise idea. "That's what will drive me here," Mr. Reiser said. "To find the idea first." Cossette Post, New York, clients include T.D. Waterhouse, health insurer Horizon Blue Cross/Blue Shield of N.J., energy provider Keyspan and the U.S. Coast Guard.

one belief

Given such commitment to developing the idea first, and only then executing, it is no surprise that Mr. Reiser and ThinkingSports partner and co-founder Mark Bingham, close friends since childhood and now neighbors in Dobbs Ferry, N.Y., created their venture based on one firm belief.

"Many marketers don't use their sponsorships effectively," said Mr. Bingham, who from December 2000 through late 2002 was president, North America, at Interpublic's sports-marketing outfit Octagon. Prior to that, during nine years as senior VP-marketing and broadcasting for the New York Mets, he saw, firsthand, how many marketers under-use a sponsorship, by, for instance, using it to only target a demographic. And few ad agencies capitalized on the potential of "the wonderful imagery of sports" to fully build a brand, he said.

Mr. Reiser agreed. The two had discussed which strategies worked and which ones didn't over the years, whether while their families vacationed together or at shared weekend barbeques. With Thinking Sports, the duo aims to build marketing programs when strategy is formed and creative is conceived.

Seeking a home for the venture, the two men turned to Cossette Post President-Chief Operating Officer Lance Smith, a longtime friend and tennis partner of Mr. Bingham.

Mr. Smith saw potential for current Cossette Post clients, as well as for Canadian Cossette Communications' clients, which include Bell Canada, Molson beer, McDonald's Corp. and Coca-Cola Co., many of which are sponsors of the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games. He presented it to Cossette Communications management. "It is a great fit," he said. "We think there are a lot of possibilities."

Fast Facts

Name: Robert Reiser

Age: 48

Title: Chief creative officer, Cosette Post

Challenge: To build creative ideas around new sports-marketing unit

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