Rita Ferro, president of Disney ad sales, picked up the Frank Stanton Award, given out by the Center For Communication, at a luncheon in New York Oct. 23. Every year the Center presents its Frank Stanton Award for Excellence in Communication, named for the former CBS president, and CFC founder, Dr. Frank Stanton.
The event happened at 583 Park Avenue.
“We’re going to turn this room into the happiest place on Earth,” teased Max Robins, CFC executive director, who emceed along with Megan Clarken, outgoing chief commercial officer at Nielsen.
Those saluting Ferro included anchor World News Tonight anchor Tom Llamas, who riffed off Dos Equis’ Most Interesting Man in the World to praise the sales chief, ESPN host Kenny Mayne, and Ed Erhardt, former ESPN sales president.
“I’m her mentor--that’s really what I’m trying to convey right here,” deadpanned Mayne.
Debra O’Connell, WABC New York president/general manager, Kevin Mayer, chairman of direct-to-consumer, and Karey Burke, ABC entertainment president, also stepped to the podium. O’Connell saluted Ferro for “making a difference in so many lives each and every day.”
Burke added, “Even if I had a stupid question or made a dumb mistake, she would have my back.”
Others appeared on video, including Bob Iger, Kobe Bryant, Michael Strahan, Sam Champion and Kerry Washington. “You are a leader, you are an innovator,” said Washington.
In the past, the event has saluted David Nevins, Debra Lee, Cesar Conde, Michael Bloomberg, Katharine Graham and Ted Turner, among other luminaries. The luncheon has been more of a roast in years past but was a tamer affair this time.
Ferro called the Stanton honor a “responsibility and a tremendous honor and privilege.” She mentioned being raised to “try and fail, but don’t ever fail to try.”
A Cuban-American, she pushed those in the room to open the door for women and people of color. “I’m inspired by the opportunity and the possibility because, if this room is a reflection of what we will be in the future, everything is to come,” said Ferro.