After 13 years at media agency Initiative that followed four
years at the agency's predecessor, Western Media, Tim Spengler was elevated two
months ago from Initiative North America CEO to Worldwide CEO of MagnaGlobal.
The position is, in effect, a new one. Elizabeth
Herbst-Brady had been both president and CEO of Magna, focusing more on the
U.S. operation, until she left last July. The CEO post had been left vacant
until March when Spengler was elevated with, among other responsibilities, a
directive to begin expanding the Magna footprint outside the U.S. and beyond
Herbst-Brady had spent much of her three years as head of
Magna transitioning the unit from primarily one that helped the IPG agencies
negotiate upfront TV ad buys, to a more research-driven unit that also provided
more intelligence tools and information to the agencies and their clients.
Magna also began getting more involved in media buying across other platforms
Enter Spengler, who will now expand Magna's services to IPG
agencies worldwide. He'll also be scouting out new and different media
opportunities on all platforms, bringing them back to the agencies and their
Spengler spoke with MBPT about his evolving role at Magna.
IPG agencies already have offices in different parts of the world right
now. Why is it important for Magna to also be there?
Marketers today want to work with agencies that can meet all their
needs under one roof and Magna can bring a lot to the table for the agencies in
the areas of buying scale, consumer intelligence and brand entertainment
through the IPG unit Ensemble headed by Scott Donaton, who we work closely
with. Marketers are also selecting their media agencies today based not just on
what they can offer in the U.S. but what they can offer globally. Magna can be
an asset to agencies trying to win business in other parts of the world.
What type of structure are you planning?
We are creating a hub and spoke operation. Magna will be the hub in
that we can create opportunities based on scale on behalf of our agencies and
provide them with necessary tools to help them win clients, and the regional
offices around the world will be the spokes that can reach out to the IPG
agencies with all of this help and information.
How is the Magna executive structure different than it was under
Elizabeth Herbst-Brady and what type of expansion is in the works?
When Elizabeth was president and CEO of Magna, she basically oversaw just the
U.S. or North American business and [current Magna president] Chris Williams
oversaw Europe. Now Chris will oversee Magna operations worldwide and so will I
as CEO. We are just beginning to expand our operations beyond Europe to
establish offices in Asia and Latin America. We will be adding more offices and
people in regions around the world. We're still working on what countries and
what regions, but we want to create a broader structure for media buying
globally and move the Magna system to all markets where our agencies have clients
doing business worldwide.
Magna was initially established in 2001 to help the IPG media agencies,
Initiative and Universal McCann, negotiate TV deals in the upfront. But hasn't
Magna's role expanded to other platforms?
Yes. Magna has been evolving to assist the agencies across all
platforms and we will be doing more of that on the print, digital and mobile
sides going forward.
As far as Magna's traditional role of assisting the agencies in their
upfront TV negotiations, has that role changed?
That role will continue to be the same. Magna is a facilitator for them
on a national level. We are agency neutral. We get aggregate budgets from the
agencies that are not client specific. And there is an advisory council that
includes representatives from all the agencies. We all meet and map out a
strategy. When negotiations are conducted with a network it is done using the
aggregate amount that all the agencies will spend on that particular network to
try to get the best price for everyone.
So, Magna is not establishing an upfront strategy that the agencies
No. Our approach is bottom up, not top down. We don't set a negotiation policy
and mandate the agencies abide by it. We are totally collaborative. Our goal is
to be a resource center for the agencies and come up with a negotiation
Who handles upfront operations for Magna?
I'm not directly involved in the upfront. Todd Gordon, our executive
VP, runs the upfront for us. The advisory council works with Todd to come up with
the deals at each network.
How does your CEO role at Magna differ from your CEO role at
At Initiative, I was responsible for all of Initiative's clients in the
U.S. and oversaw all aspects of the agency including buying, planning,
research, human resources and business development. At Magna, I will be working
with each of the agencies with a more targeted focus of helping them to buy
media better for their clients. In addition to broadening the Magna reach
worldwide, I will be meeting with media companies to talk about big
opportunities that might be available for our agencies' clients to take
advantage of. If I can come up with some innovative ideas from the media
outlets, I can then present them to the agencies to see if they want to
participate on behalf of their clients. I am also going to find out if there
are opportunities for Magna to collaborate with the media companies.