What’s on your DVR? Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, This Is Us
All-time favorite show? The Office
Destinations on your vacation bucket list? Cuba
Books on your nightstand? Greed and Glory on Wall Street by Ken Auletta, The Last Days of Night: A Novel by Graham Moore
Recent memorable meal — where and what did you eat? At Nobu in Malibu with wife Maura, son Jack and daughter Maggie. “I’m an only child. I like to celebrate my birthday.”
Mark Marshall, president of NBCUniversal advertising sales and partnerships, never considered a career other than advertising. His grandfather worked at ad agencies in New York and Chicago, and he got a job as a sales assistant at Family Channel right out of Valparaiso University in Indiana. Marshall joined NBCU from Turner in 2013 and moved from Chicago to New York in 2016. He was promoted to his current post in 2018. Another generation of the Marshall family is seeing the benefits of being in the ad game. Marshall took his 15-year-old son, Jack, to Stamford, Connecticut, to watch NBC’s Sunday Night Football studio show live and spend time with Mike Tirico, Tony Dungy and Rodney Harrison. “That was a fun one to share with my son,” he said. He talked to B+C business editor Jon Lafayette about where the ad business has taken him.
How did moving to headquarters change your job?
Other than having a much longer commute, you get to spend more time directly with the clients and strategy teams, which allows you to have different conversations with clients and affords you the chance to get closer to their challenges and work to help them create solutions.
What was it like being onstage at Radio City Music Hall during NBCU’s upfront in May?
It was probably the coolest honor of my career to do that, and just to have my wife and daughter in the audience as well was great. And I was debating, do I give the crowd my karaoke version of Bon Jovi’s “Wanted Dead or Alive?” That would have made it the last time I will be on stage at Radio City.
NBCU is pushing advanced advertising. Is it gaining traction?
That business has grown dramatically for us overall. We’ll be up this year 30%-plus, in terms of our data products, with about 50% more advertisers participating as well. So we've kind of moved from a test-and-learn to actually, with some clients, dedicating a significant part of their media plan to audience buying.
TV is changing and consolidating. What do you tell salespeople concerned about job security?
The first thing I’d say is, don’t think of us as being in the TV business. We’re lucky enough to work at a company that’s in the entertainment business with theme parks, Universal Pictures, TV networks, as well as a billion-dollar plus digital business, not to mention launching Peacock. We have so many opportunities to do great things. You have to get out of your silo and learn other parts of our company. It will make you more valuable regardless of whatever changes happen in our business.
Peacock [the planned streaming service] is ad-supported. How big of an opportunity is it?
I’ve been on the road for the past couple of weeks, having meetings with clients and agencies. Everyone wants to be part of it because they know how important it is to keep a healthy advertising ecosystem, so advertisers have really leaned into it. If everyone moves to the subscription side of the world and no one is seeing ads, that’s not good for anyone.