The Advertising Hall of Achievement: 2009 Inductees


Allison Arden, Vice President/Publisher, Advertising Age / Creativity

Allison Arden is vice president/publisher of Advertising Age and Creativity, overseeing the business and editorial strategies and operations for those media brands. Advertising Age is the world´s leading brand of news, information and insights on advertising, marketing and media. Creativity is the definitive showcase of brand-driven creative work. 

Since becoming publisher in 2007, Arden and her team have expanded the way Advertising Age serves the community with products and programs including Ad Age on Campus, Goodworks, CaT: Creativity & Technology, and the Small Agency Awards. Throughout Arden’s tenure at Advertising Age, she has held the roles of associate publisher and general manager, interactive for Advertising Age and Creativity. In those roles, she helped drive the evolution of Advertising Age and Creativity’s digital product line, including, (formerly,the expanding video line-up such as 3 Minute Ad Age, Creativity Top 5, as well as other vertical initiatives including Ad Age China, MediaWorks, TalentWorks and Ad Age Digital.

Prior to joining Crain Communications in 1996, Arden worked for Miller Freeman Inc. where she worked on Cadence Magazine and launched 3D Design Magazine and its Web site as national sales manager in 1995.

Arden is a graduate of the University of Maryland and the proud mother of Max, 8 and Maya, 5. Arden is a two-time finisher in the ING New York City Marathon. Arden also serves on the board of directors for the American Advertising Federation, on the board of directors of Advertising Women of New York, on the board of VCU BrandCenter, and was featured in the May 2009 issue of Publishing Executive Magazine as one of 50 Top Women in Magazine Publishing.

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Tara Comonte

Tara Comonte, CFO & COO, Worldwide, Mediabrands

"Brilliant ideas are one thing. Making them real is another."

As worldwide CFO and COO of IPG’s Mediabrands Tara Comonte oversees the commercial excellence of all Mediabrands companies. Sitting at the helm of all financial/operational decisions, Comonte has transformed Mediabrands into a leading global media organization. Comonte’s additional responsibilities as COO is around further diversification of Mediabrands businesses, increased levels of automation and technology and driving maximum operational effectiveness of all our operations.

As CFO and COO, Comonte’s view on the media business is unmatched. Her role is strategic business development and commercial excellence. Clients need business partners to develop marketing platforms to protect their investments, focus on performance and ROI. The CFO will help lead those conversations and you’ll want Comonte at the table. She wants to work with clients to develop creative and value-based remuneration methodologies; in fact she’s been doing this her whole career.

Comonte has extensive knowledge and experience in all aspects of business and operations including, mergers and acquisitions and corporate restructuring with a specific understanding of business associated with the marketing communications sector. Comonte’s knowledge about our industry keeps her engaged in the growth and success of our business, both existing agencies within Mediabrands and even new ventures. Recognizing the need to inspire a collaborative and entrepreneurial culture, which is uncommon language for a CFO, Comonte created the first ever Mediabrands Venture Fund, which provides financial support to turn ideas, from anyone one of the 6,500 employees worldwide, into tangible, real-life businesses.

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Peter McGuinness

Peter McGuinness, Chairman & CEO, Gotham, Inc.

Peter McGuinness’ mission as chairman and CEO of Gotham is to bring leading marketers street-smart, integrated communications without the big-agency bureaucracy and to help his clients outsmart their competitors by focusing on ideas over executions and by exploiting every marketing channel available, especially if that channel didn’t exist yesterday. 

Before landing at Gotham, McGuinness spent many years at McCann Worldgroup in both the media and account management departments running accounts like Rubbermaid, Black & Decker, Smith Barney, AT&T and Gateway. He climbed the ranks quickly and became executive vice president and worldwide account director before he turned 30. In this role, he helped transform the MasterCard “Priceless” campaign into a global phenomenon in over 100 countries and in 45 languages and went on to lead 20 integrated brands for Unilever in 90 countries. 

McCann/IPG then tapped him to head Momentum’s UK unit as regional president for Europe, Middle East and Africa. He led 45 offices as well as overseeing accounts like Microsoft, Nokia, HP and American Express.

McGuinness also gave back to the industry and the community by leading multiple pro bono efforts including the AIDS Awareness Quilt campaign under the Clinton and Bush administrations, Mandela Day, the Anti-Crime campaign under the Giuliani administration, Paul Newman’s The Hole in the Wall Camps’ positioning , the “Small Steps” campaign for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the "Hands Can Do Incredible Things" CPR campaign for the American Heart Association/Ad Council and helped pioneer Agencies In Action by committing Gotham to it first, helping NYC’s homeless. Add to his list these creative accomplishments: Effies, AMEs, CLIOs and Cannes Lions. 

McGuinness also serves on the board of the AAAA and AEF, charged with helping to shape the future of the advertising industry. He is a David Rockefeller Fellow for the advancement of New York City and a member of IPG’s Diversity Council. He sits on the board of the New York Pops, and Mandela Day, a division of the Nelson Mandela Foundation, as well as the Marketing/Advertising Curriculum Committee at Baruch College. 

McGuinness is fascinated with culture and has flown over 3 million miles and visited over 60 countries in his career. 

McGuinness and his wife recently started a philanthropic company called Do Your Part Through Art (DYPTA) focused on child development through artistic expression for children in need from countries of need.

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Ari Merkin

Ari Merkin, Founding Partner/ Chief Creative Officer, Toy New York

In just 16 years, Ari Merkin has become one of the most awarded creatives in advertising history. His work has received not only hundreds of accolades for creativity and effectiveness, but also best of show honors at virtually every major advertising award competition. This includes the prestigious One Show, where in 2003, Merkin became the only creative to ever take home 13 Pencils in a single evening. He is a recognized industry leader who has been featured in almost every publication that follows the advertising industry. In 2006, Advertising Age named Merkin among its 40 Under 40.

Merkin’s success stems from his early career at Crispin Porter + Bogusky, where his work on the BMW MINI helped the campaign become one of the most successful U.S. car launches in history. His “Body Bag” campaign for ‘Truth’, the anti-smoking effort for the American Legacy Foundation, is still considered one of the most effective public service efforts of all time. As writer of the IKEA “Lamp” spot, Merkin earned a Grand Prix at Cannes, as well as the Grand Clio. The spot still appears among listings of “top 10” commercials.

At just 33-years-old, Merkin left Crispin Porter + Bogusky to take over as executive creative director of Fallon New York. Within just two years, he turned a fledgling outpost into one of the top 10 most-awarded agencies in the world – all while creating record-breaking sales for its largest clients.

In 2005, with four small children at home and a very understanding wife, Merkin co-founded an agency of his own. Toy New York is an agency that has been profitable since day one, and it has attracted an impressive roster of blue chip clients, including Amazon, Macy’s, Disney, Google, Virgin Mobile, Activision, American Eagle, OfficeMax, BusinessWeek and Extended Stay Hotels. Among the agency’s most noteworthy work is the “Elf Yourself” viral phenomenon for OfficeMax, which attracted 200 million visits in less than six weeks. Elf Yourself is still on the record books as one of the greatest viral successes ever.

Despite his numerous accolades, Merkin’s greatest contribution remains the inspiration and mentoring he gives to others. As a recent intern at Toy said, “It's refreshing when you come across a guy like Ari who has as much gold in his heart as he does on the shelves. He understands the influence that those in advertising have, knows how to best harness it, and most importantly, goes out of his way to pass that knowledge to the countless numbers that wish to follow in his footsteps.”

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Bea Perez

Beatriz R. Perez, Senior Vice President, Integrated Marketing, Coca-Cola North America

Beatriz R. Perez is the senior vice president, integrated marketing, for the North America division of The Coca-Cola Company. Perez’s role is critical in this continuously changing landscape, where content and contacts are integrally linked to bring all of our North America brands to life. She is responsible for negotiating and leading all media, interactive, entertainment and sports strategy, partnerships and execution. This includes our partnerships with NASCAR, NCAA, PGA, Olympics, NBA, LeBron James, American Idol, Creative Artists Agency, and many others across film, music and television. 

In Perez’s career some of her accomplishments include developing the award-winning Motorsports marketing platform that launched Coca-Cola as the official soft drink of NASCAR, the Coca-Cola Racing Family, and securing the Daytona 500 partnership. Prior to this assignment, Perez worked on the Coca-Cola and Sprite Brand Teams and was responsible for multi-cultural marketing initiatives including advertising development, media planning and activation. For example, leading the Selena Movie Premiere program activated in over 37 cities.

Before joining Company, Perez was the account supervisor at DMB&B, for The Coca-Cola Company focused primarily on initiatives with Telemundo, Univision and led the development of a grassroots community relations tool kit for Coca-Cola bottlers.

Perez was named Sports Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 award recipient three consecutive years (2001-2003) and was inducted into their Hall of Fame in 2003. In 2005 and 2000, she was named Sports Business Journal’sTop 25 Women in Business. In 1997, Perez was named the Most Promising Manager of the Year by the National Hispanic Employees Association. From 1991-1994, she worked for the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in Washington, DC and was named their Employee of the Year in 1993. She was recently recognized as an Industry Career Achiever by the American Advertising Federation.

Perez sits on a number of boards including: Grammy Foundation, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Foundation Board, The Victory Junction Gang Camps founded by Kyle and Pattie Petty, Abu Dhabi Investment House and HSBC North America Holdings Inc.

Perez holds a Bachelor of Science degree in marketing from the University of Maryland and resides with her family in Atlanta.

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Tracey Scheppach

Tracey Scheppach, Senior Vice President, Video Innovation Director, Starcom MediaVest Group

The world we live in is one of constant innovation, with online video, DVRs, VOD, mobile media and video sites like YouTube and Hulu allowing consumers to access information however and whenever they want. And that’s just the beginning. As video technology continues to develop, it’s Tracey Scheppach’s job not only to understand it all, but to grasp how those changes affect consumers’ behaviors and responses to advertising – and where marketers fit into the equation. She examines the world of advanced video contact points in her role at worldwide media agency network Starcom MediaVest Group (SMG), constantly striving to obtain better information to enhance media plans for some of the world’s biggest marketers.

In her SMG role – adopted in June 2009 – Scheppach is responsible for all strategic and operational oversight of SMG’s Advanced Media Center of Excellence and is charged with determining best practices and standards for emerging video technologies. She also helps invest clients’ advertising dollars across cutting edge video contact points such as addressable advertising, online video, DVRs, VOD, IPTV, interactive TV, mobile video, second-by-second set-top box measurement and more. Scheppach is also is one of the founders of the VivaKi program known as The Pool, a testing initiative built on the collaborative participation of a select group of clients, content providers and tech companies—all of whom are “pooling” insights and resources in pursuit of future engagement models while still in the development stage. The goal of this research and development initiative is to gain insights into emerging forms of media and create industry standards for new advertising models.

Prior, Scheppach was at full-service SMG agency Starcom USA where she was – and still is – a vocal industry advocate for the freeing and widespread use of national set-top box data, which will provide the business with a dramatically improved perspective on real life viewing behaviors – and thus improved accountability. She continues to be a leader in second-by-second set-top box data, working with partners like TNS, TiVo, DIRECTV, Google TV, Charter, Comcast and more. Since 2006 she has pioneered industry initiatives around addressable advertising, pushing television distribution companies, clients and the industry toward the next level of relevance and data-driven effectiveness.

A frequent speaker at industry events, Scheppach is also quoted in publications such as Advertising Age, Adweek, Mediaweek and Entertainment Weekly, radio talk shows such as NPR and newspapers such as The New York Times, Financial Times and The Wall Street Journal. Scheppach was named a Woman to Watch by Advertising Age in 2008, and was also recognized in Mediaweek’s Watch List for 2009 and iMedia Connection’s list of top 25 Internet Marketing Leaders and Innovators. Starcom’s LEGO team, guided by Scheppach, won the Interactive/Enhanced TV category for Media magazine’s Creative Media Awards and Mediaweek’s Media Plan of the Year in 2008.  She is also a member of the American Association of Advertising Agencies Digital Video Innovation committee, Google TV’s Measurement Advisory Board and Invidi’s Advisory Board.
Prior to joining Starcom, Scheppach was vice president of programming and research at OpenTV, a global interactive TV company. Working with Wink, Inc., a pioneer in the interactive television industry, she helped create branding campaigns with 60 advertisers – including Proctor & Gamble – on over 100 brands across 28 U.S. networks. Before that, as Monsanto Company’s marketing director, Scheppach oversaw the development and implementation of communications strategies to secure global public acceptance of biotechnology through global advertising strategy and research. Scheppach also served as Monsanto’s brand manager for Equal and NutraSweet, helping earn a Clio Award for Equal’s 1998 “Scream” execution.

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Ben Silverman

Ben Silverman, Founder and CEO, Electus

Emmy and Golden Globe Award-winning producer Ben Silverman announced a partnership with IAC, led by media mogul Barry Diller, in July 2009 to launch a new company, Electus, which will capitalize on the ever-evolving world of multimedia production and distribution. With Silverman as founder and CEO, Electus will unite producers, creators, advertisers and distributors under one roof and produce all forms of content for distribution across a variety of platforms around the world.

Silverman is executive producer of the Emmy Award-winning NBC comedy “The Office” and the Golden Globe-winning comedy “Ugly Betty,” is co-creator and executive producer of hit reality show “The Biggest Loser” for NBC as well as an executive producer and co-creator of the critically acclaimed “The Tudors” for Showtime.

Prior to launching the new media venture with IAC, Silverman served as Co-Chairman, NBC Entertainment and Universal Media Studios from June 2007. Responsible for directing the efforts of NBC Universal’s television operations, Silverman transformed the business model by connecting advertisers and consumers through content in a more profound way. Initiating the first of two Infronts, he rebranded the Upfront and enabled a two way conversation between media companies and advertisers. Fall 2009 marked Ben’s first non-strike-interrupted slate which builds on the critical and bottom-line success he had with “30 Rock,” “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon,” “Saturday Night Live,” "The Biggest Loser," "Celebrity Apprentice" and “The Office” as well as the new “The Jay Leno Show” which Ben championed that directly addresses the challenges facing broadcast TV with a topical DVR-proof show.

Prior to NBC Universal, Silverman, in March 2002, launched Reveille, a production and distribution company focusing on exploiting worldwide intellectual property rights through scripted and alternative television formats. The company leveraged Ben’s relationships with the world’s top broadcasters and producers to acquire, produce and distribute entertainment programming across all television genres. He made Reveille the world leader in creating integrated marketing opportunities for advertisers and developing alternative financing paradigms for the television business.

In 2003, he redefined advertiser-supplied programming by joining with Interpublic Group to produce “The Restaurant,” and Bravo’s “Blow Out,” with both shows fully financed by context-relevant advertisers.

Previously, Silverman was in charge of the international packaging division at the William Morris Agency (WMA), where he was the company’s youngest division head, packaging more than 25 television series that encompassed over 500 produced episodes, including “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,” “The Weakest Link,” “Big Brother,” and “Queer as Folk.” He also led WMA's New York consulting branch, representing brand names such as Maxim, InStyle, eBay and Anheuser-Busch, and focused on extending those brands into alternative and traditional media outlets.

Prior to William Morris, Silverman was vice president for New World/Marvel Entertainment, where he developed sitcoms and envisioned live-action projects for film and television. Previously, he also held posts at CBS and Warner Bros.

Silverman graduated magna cum laude from Tufts University with a bachelor of arts degree in history, and is involved with multiple philanthropic endeavors, including Seeds of Peace, a group helping to foster peace among young people from adversarial cultures.

In addition, Silverman sits on the Cedars-Sinai Hospital board of governors. Silverman also serves on the board of directors of Best Buddies, a non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing the lives of people with intellectual disabilities by providing guidance and integrated employment. In December 2008, People magazine selected him in its sexiest entertainment executive under “Sexy A-Z.”

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