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Publicis Groupe Media Shake-Up Means New Roles for John Muszynski, Melissa Shapiro

TV-ad sales veterans have long known John Muszynski and Melissa Shapiro, two veterans of the Madison Avenue bargaining table. When TV’s annual upfront market opens in a few weeks, those familiar faces will operate from new perches.

As part of a shake-up of its media-buying operations put into place earlier this month, Muszynski and Shapiro will have new roles, according to a person familiar with the situation. Muszynski, a longtime senior executive at Starcom Mediavest, a media-buying unit of Publicis Groupe of France, is taking on expanded duties. Once chief investment officer for Spark, one of the smaller agencies in the operation, he will oversee the same for the new Mediavest Spark, a new assemblage created under a plan unveiled by Publicis Media chief Steve King. Melissa Shapiro, who had been president of investment for Mediavest, is moving to Optimedia Blue 449, another agency that is part of Publicis Media, where she will handle similar duties.

Carrie Seifer, president of digital and data at Mediavest and Shelby Saville, an executive vice president at Spark, are expected to take on new investment oversight duties at Mediavest Spark as part of the restructuring, according to the person familiar with the situation. Amanda Richman, president of investment at Starcom, a sister agency, is expected to continue in that position.

In a statement, Publicis Media declined to comment on the executives or their new roles. “We have an incredible bench strength of investment leadership to steward our clients’ investments and drive value and innovation on their behalf,” the company said in a statement.

The moves take place just as Madison Avenue is planning one of the biggest investments in TV advertising of the year. During the TV upfront, U.S. networks try to sell the bulk of their ad inventory for the coming programming season. In 2016 advertisers face a new challenge. Ad pricing has risen over the last few months, and TV executives and Wall Street are anticipating marketers to earmark more money to TV than they have in some time. Having a savvy buyer at the helm could be crucial in this year’s haggling.  Publicis is betting that it can place senior executives in new roles and maintain an advantage for clients, even as other media-buying shops will go to the table with many of the same people who have inhabited senior buying roles for years.

All the executives would presumably work with Dave Penski,  chief investment officer for Publicis Media in the U.S.

Muszynski and Shapiro have played very influential roles in the ad business in recent years, helping to govern the placement of millions of dollars in advertising from blue-chip marketers ranging from Taco Bell to American Honda. In recent months Mediavest has suffered the defection of major clients including P&G, Coca-Cola and Walmart.

Muszynski (pictured, above), has worked at other Publicis units, including Leo Burnett and Starcom USA, the latter of which he led as CEO for four years. Shapiro was named president of investment at Mediavest. In a sign of how eager TV networks have been to curry her favor, NBCUniversal last year singled her out during a programming presentation at Radio City Music Hall, dispatching actor Neil Patrick Harris and ad-sales chief Linda Yaccarino to call attention to her and wish her a happy birthday in front of hundreds of buying executives, advertisers and reporters.

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