Meet the 12 Most Successful Media Agency Execs in Southern California

By: T.L. Stanley

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. —Michael Bürgi

Cheryl Idell was a data geek before it was cool.

Having started her career as an intern at Ted Bates Advertising in New York, she found her way into research almost by accident, through an early mentor there, and found that she loved it.

"I could've never been an accountant dealing with columns of numbers all the time," says Idell, recently named West Coast lead at GroupM's Mindshare, "but I really connected with the logic of applying data in a creative way."

The rest of the business has caught up to her over the past few decades, with data's role in marketing and media strategy "truly being recognized as mainstream rather than fringe," she explains.

Because of that, and the fact that "more data doesn't mean more good data," agencies play a critical role for clients now in sifting and interpreting the research, says Idell, a veteran of Initiative Media and IAG, which was bought by Nielsen. She'll use those well-honed skills as she shepherds the Los Angeles, Portland, Ore., and newly opened San Francisco offices of Mindshare, where the head count has grown 27 percent over the past year to about 150, including a fourfold expansion of the analytics team.

Three months into her new role, Idell oversees a roster that includes Lionsgate, Nike, Nordstrom and financial services company BBVA.

Idell says she will pull from her Nielsen experience, where she was evp, client services, in charge of the Disney relationship, along with her stint as a client at 20th Century Fox in pitching new accounts and serving existing clients. The exec looks forward to working in movie marketing again, she says, with Lionsgate releasing the much-anticipated musical romance La La Land in December.

Preaching the gospel of being an early media adopter, Idell admits to having "the media habits of a 16-year-old girl," with Snapchat living next to an eclectic assortment of trades, tech blogs, The Financial Times, LinkedIn and others. "There are great curators and resources," she says, "but as far as platforms, I think you need to personally experience them."

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