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Selling Jon Nesvig - Broadcasting & Cable

Selling Jon Nesvig

Some of the biggest names in the industry turn the tables on Fox’s retiring ad sales legend, as for once the salesman becomes the subject of the pitch
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Rupert Murdoch, Chairman/CEO, News Corp.
Jon is beloved by his Fox colleagues, respected and admired by all in the media business, and I’m honored to call him my friend.

Jamie Kellner, Former President, Fox Broadcasting
I remember Billy Lynn [then VP and corporate media director for Coca-Cola Co.] really liked Jon a lot. And he said, you’ve got this kind of Midwestern likeability from this great big strong guy, but behind his eyes he’s like a Viking warrior. I remember the Viking warrior part. And in some ways, that still kind of describes Jon pretty well. He’s got those warm, kind, fair sensibilities about him, but behind his eyes you can see this tough guy that you shouldn’t try to push over a line too far.

We wanted to preserve what we’d built at Fox, and he kept most of the team there and he promoted the people from within. And so many of them went on to run businesses or stay there and become the senior people. It’s one of those great stories of a great manager who helped grow the young people to become senior people all over the industry. And again, not a single person ever said a negative thing about him, and that’s rare in the television business.

Jo Ann Ross, President for Ad Sales, CBS
I wish Jon all good things as he starts his next chapter. Jon has set the bar very high for all of us in the business. He was a role model and mentor to so many of us, and he always led with integrity and honesty. His wry sense of humor and quick wit are well documented and will provide us with great memories and a lot of laughs. I personally will miss those calls to me that were misdialed speed calls to Jean Rossi! Cheers to Jon and Hanneke!

Bob Wehling, Former Global Marketing and Government Relations Officer, Procter & Gamble
I worked with Jon Nesvig for several years. In addition to being a great sales guy, he was a true gentleman. He never had a disparaging word for the competition and he never misled us on any issue. He was a true credit to the Fox organization.

Irwin Gotlieb, CEO, GroupM
Look around. Talk to people. I don’t think you’re going to find anyone to say anything negative about the guy. He’s always been an absolute gentleman. That doesn’t mean he isn’t tough and difficult from time to time, but he manifests some of the best traits of that side of the business. If you had to pick the fi rst sales guy side for the B&C Hall of Fame, Nesvig was an easy call.

Rino Scanzoni, Chief Investment Officer, GroupM
He understands that this is a business of relationships— that was one of his strong suits. He looked at things from a much broader perspective than a lot of heads of sales, who just worry about the next six months. The guy has had intestinal fortitude. You have intestinal fortitude when you have two things: a point of view and the job security to carry it out. To actually have a point of view—as opposed to just taking a temperature check on what everybody else is thinking—and then having the balls to carry it through, that’s what makes him unique. And I think that’s why he has a lot of respect in the business.

Joe Abruzzese, President, Advertising Sales, Discovery Communications
Jon’s an amazing guy. He always maintains price integrity. He never has lastminute sales on avails. He’s a tremendous strategist. And he’s great with clients and loves to play golf.

Dave Cassaro, President, Ad Sales, Comcast Networks
I’m sure the words “tough, but fair’ will always come up in any description of Jon. He is honest and straightforward…no hidden agendas, but he’ll only tell you as much as you need to know. He plays his cards appropriately close to the vest. Most folks know exactly where they stand with Jon. One of the most valuable lessons I learned from Jon is understanding the value of taking the “long view” of business and professional relationships.

Jon Mandel, Former Chief Negotiating Officer, MediaCom, and former President, Nielsen Connect
He is a class act. He’s smart, he makes an effort to listen to everybody’s problems. Whether he can fix them or not isn’t the issue. He gives everyone the feeling that they’re cared about and that their business is valued. And he hears their pain and he hears their problem and he’s there to try to do the best he can to make business life better. He’s a no-bullshit guy. He doesn’t like bullshit and he doesn’t give you bullshit, and I think people appreciate that in a business that all too often is filled with bullshit.

Bill Koenigsberg, President and CEO, Horizon Media
Jon Nesvig is a man of honor and respect. For all those who knew him, they are better people because of Jon. For those who did not have the pleasure of knowing Jon, his imprint on the business will live on for years to come. We will miss his smile, his wisdom and his wit. What I won’t miss are his high CPMS!

Tim Spengler, President, North America, Initiative Media
Jon Nesvig could cut through it. He wasn’t afraid to innovate, and he celebrated the fun in the business. I always felt that relationships mattered to Jon, that he took a long-term view in individual dealings with us. Sometimes a no became a yes or a split the difference, because he was willing to listen to our side and “hear” what our particular issues were. I always felt that Jon took this into account. Under Jon, Fox wasn’t afraid to innovate, break the mold and try different things. From the beginning, the culture at Fox was always a cut above the rest. As a result, we all enjoyed our time with them outside of the offi ce. And they always threw the best parties.

Keith Turner, Former President of Sales for NBC, now Senior VP, Sales and Sponsorship, NFL
I worked for him for a few years, and he’s been a friend for 30. I adore the guy. This is a business where people have a lot of friends but also a lot of enemies, and Jon has been able to fi gure out a way keep people happy. In this day and age,that’s not an easy thing to do.

Hank Close, Founder, Close & Co., and former President, Advertising Sales, MTV Networks
Jon is one of the smartest people I’ve ever met, with the security not to constantly brandish it. Every time he speaks, he means exactly what he says, nothing less or more. They broke the mold after Jon came along. “He’ll be missed” won’t quite cover it—he is that singular a leader and person.

Peggy Green, Vice Chairman, ZenithOptimedia
Jon was steady management at Fox, through the tough times and through the good times. It’s a tribute to him that he probably has the sales force that’s stayed with management the longest time. You know why he’s a good negotiator? Because he believes in what he does. Jon has a lot of integrity, and he sells what he believes in. And if you have somebody who does that, he’s very good at what he does. He’s good. Sometimes too good.

Bruce Lefkowitz, Executive VP, Ad Sales, Fox Cable Networks
Jon Nesvig is the gold standard for our industry. He is the rarest breed, our version of a triplecrown winner— among customers, internal personnel and competitors. No matter the climate or the market, he is able to smoothly navigate the waters. He’s one of the smartest, most instinctive executives this business has ever known.

Jed Petrick, Former Account Executive at Fox, former President of the WB
He let us know that he was always there for us if we ever needed him. But we were also free to learn on our own, and make mistakes, as we went. I never saw him lose his temper—despite giving him multiple opportunities. I have no doubt he smoothed many a wrinkle behind the scenes that we never knew existed. I feel fortunate to have learned from him, both at Fox and afterwards.

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