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Tuesday, 11/10/16

Meet the 12 Most Successful Media Agency Execs in Southern California

MediaCom's Steve Abraham tops list of Adweek's inaugural L.A. Media Stars

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Some things in Los Angeles always remain: palm trees, the Santa Ana winds, convertibles, In-N-Out Burger. But the country's second-largest media market has also witnessed its share of change, much of it expressed through a rapidly evolving media planning and buying business. Here, we introduce the inaugural L.A. Media Stars, written by Adweek's longtime West Coast contributing writer T.L. Stanley and spotlighting the most important people in that universe. Among the many changes this city has seen: movie marketing that has been turned on its head in the digital age. Gone are the days of well-placed spots on "Must-See TV" and a handful of billboards. Data and insights, Snapchat displays and branded-content upfronts are the new currency of getting butts into multiplex seats. Not surprisingly, the number of media agencies in L.A. has grown, each securing its base in the entertainment industry (20th Century Fox and Zenith, Sony Pictures and UM, Universal Pictures and Maxus, Lionsgate and Mindshare) and building the business from there. It makes sense that many of our Media Stars are steeped in branded entertainment-a most natural fit for any media player in the City of Angels.

Steven Abraham, evp, managing director, Los Angeles, MediaCom USA  By: T.L. Stanley

Hollywood loves a good reboot, and no one understands that better than Steven Abraham, who has spent the last five years remaking the Los Angeles office of MediaCom into the agency equivalent of a box-office blockbuster.

He's grown the head count from six to 65 and annual billings from $25 million to $450 million, with a massive win early this year of the Sony PlayStation global account. The brand joins a roster that includes Universal Music Group, Pokemon, Tempur Sealy and home security firm Ring.

It's a total revival since Abraham arrived in 2011, just after MediaCom had lost Warner Bros.-its most significant client of nearly two decades.

"The office needed to be reborn, and we really had to pound the pavement for new business," says Abraham, evp, managing director, who relocated to the West Coast from MediaCom London. "But it was also an opportunity to make our mark in L.A., broaden our business and seek other categories, instead of being an extension of a studio."

Moving the physical operation from WB-adjacent Burbank to Santa Monica, Calif., Abraham gathered what he calls "young and hungry" staffers who pitched the boutique nature of L.A.'s MediaCom, backed by the vast resources of parent company WPP. He shepherded new divisions to handle search, social media, analytics and strategy so that his office "wouldn't be considered just an offshoot" of the New York headquarters.

That foundation helped MediaCom snatch PlayStation from bigger competitors Carat and OMD, which Abraham calls "a game changer" (pun intended). With its newly assembled 17-person team, the PlayStation account embodies Abraham's philosophy of retaining a small-shop sensibility while "getting under the client's skin."

"It may sound twee, but we'll always try to maintain that personal touch and chemistry, along with offering all the data and analytics and planning," he says. "It stems from putting the right talent with the right clients and then living and breathing the partnership."

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Click here to read the full list of Adweek's L.A. Media Stars.