This interview was originally published by Ad Age
Catherine Sullivan is upending the TV upfronts. As the video marketplace becomes increasingly complex to navigate because of new ad formats, various audience-targeting initiatives and the growth in content platforms, Sullivan is looking to create a more strategic, relevant and integrated approach by bringing the TV networks and publishers directly to clients.
This year, Sullivan, who joined Omnicom in 2016, oversaw the holding company’s first upfronts presentation. The three-day event gathered 20 TV networks, publishers and platforms—including ABC, NBC Universal, Fox, Facebook and Condé Nast—to present customized advertising opportunities to Omnicom’s clients. Sullivan’s philosophy is that instead of looking at ad spending in silos, there should be a sales environment that reflects the way marketers actually buy media.
Sullivan, a 30-year veteran of network sales who has spent time at both ABC and NBC, already has a clear understanding of how the other side works. It’s this insight into the sell side that has positioned her to reimagine how the video-buying process can operate for marketers.
If you weren’t doing this job, what would you be doing?
Working in sports production.
What was your worst career mistake and what did you learn from it?
Staying too long in the same job and being too internally focused. Sometimes you need to leave—and that’s OK.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Relax and breathe. Everything will get done and will work out as long as you do things for the right reason.
If you could have dinner with anyone living or dead, who would it be?
What’s one thing the industry can do to encourage more women and people of color into its ranks?
We need to have more women and people of color in senior management so that young people see themselves.