Monday, February 27, 2012

With new hire, Banikarim gains national ad sales; former Rodale executive expands CMO's portfolio

[Updated at 4:09 p.m. ET with fourth-quarter national ad sales figures.]

In a significant management shake-up, Corporate said this morning that it appointed a former Rodale executive as president of sales, where she will lead national advertising sales for all of Gannett's publishing and digital businesses, including USA Today.

Mary Murcko will report to Chief Marketing Officer Maryam Banikarim, according to a news release. With the addition of ad sales to her portfolio, Banikarim is expanding her authority across GCI, only a year after she first joined the company from NBCUniversal.

The release made no mention of Lee Jones, the USAT senior vice president who has overseen ad sales since February 2010. Those sales are almost entirely to national advertisers, giving the appearance that Murcko is now de facto head of the newspaper's ad sales.

Today's announcement confirms speculation since late last week of an impending ad sales shake-up involving Banikarim and USAT, which has been struggling to regain its footing after the economy began growing again.

Across the U.S. publishing segment, which includes USAT and the community dailies, fourth-quarter national advertising sales fell 10.1% from a year before vs. a smaller 7.3% decline in overall ad sales.

"At USAT," GCI said in its fourth-quarter statement, "increases in several categories including telecommunications, credit cards and automotive were offset by declines in the travel, entertainment and technology categories."

Exited Rodale last fall
Murcko left Rodale four months ago amid management upheaval at the publisher of Men's Health and other glossy titles, after Mary Rodale took over her family's company two years ago, according to AdWeek.

She had been executive vice president and group publisher of Rodale, where she ran print and digital ad sales and integrated marketing. She was responsible for all Rodale magazines and their digital properties, including Men's Health, Women's Health, Prevention and Runner's World.

The news release didn't provide Murcko's age. She's been in the industry at least 25 years, since she started selling advertising at New York magazine, according to her LinkedIn profile.

In the release, Banikarim was quoted saying: "Mary is a seasoned executive and an effective and thoughtful strategic leader. She has great instincts for identifying new opportunities and expanding revenues across all media platforms -- from digital to mobile to print. She's known for consistently delivering results by understanding and meeting marketers' needs. We are thrilled to have her join the team."

Related: Watch this undated video interview Murcko gave to ScribeMedia on print-to-digital ad sales.

[Photo: AdAge]


  1. Banikarim had a job posting for a manager of national sales since last year.

    Looks like she had to give a bigger title to get someone in the job.

    Mary Murcko comes from Rodale, Buesse's old stomping ground.

  2. Was someone from ad sales fired last week? And of course the well-liked Madison Avenue entrenched Lori Erdos and Tony Hill. I guess that was to accommodate another senior manager.

    I can't imagine a worse culture.

  3. Proven leadership phrase eliminated from press release. say it aint so!

  4. Jim, this is more a case of Martore questioning why Banikarim has not implemented a single marketing program that generates revenue and Banikarim responding by adding a sales person to do it.

    The bigger question is why did Martore or Dubow not hire a Sales Chief years ago and why instead did they hire a CMO?

  5. 2:39 But she's not simply "adding" a sales position, is she?

    This reads more like Banikarim has staked claim to an area -- national advertising -- over which she previously held no direct authority.

    For example, doesn't USAT's ad sales department now report up to Banikarim, rather than to Hunke/Ellwood?

    1. Dr ZZZZZ on top of the obvious once again. You never disappoint Doc! You missed the big story and now you've missed another.

  6. Crossing-posting from another thread, 2:35 asks: "Now that there is a president of ad sales what happens to Leslie G?"

    The reference is to Leslie Giallombardo, who has been Gannett vice president/advertising since 2006.

    1. You are on fire DZ. Does your head hurt from thinking so hard?

  7. What does MB know about selling ads? Why no deals in the 11 months since she was hired? What has she accomplished. other than running up travel and hotel bills. someone help me here.

  8. let's change the masthead again to add more folks....omg

  9. Another hiring of a person thrown out by their former company.

    Keeping up with the trend.

    1. Oh snap! How come you're not in charge if a paper?

  10. Anything this woman brings in is gravy vs.

  11. Nothing in her background shows a strong understanding of aggregating digital impressions, of ad networks, of digital partnerships, of search marketing, or any other critical component to growing "digital" revenue at Gannett.

    Banikarim doesn't have a clue either. So now we have two people in national ad sales with no relevant digital ad experience.


  12. Perhaps Maryam should focus on fixing our broken marketing department instead of this over reach. Then again, this is the most poorly run company most of us have ever been associated with, so this moves comes as no surprise. I guess someone thinks we're going to take this rag-tag group of misfit media brands and somehow magically position them together for success. If so, I got a bridge to sell ya.

  13. When you stop and think about it, this company is filled with senior execs who are ill-equiped for the positions they have. That includes our CEO, CMO, SVPs, and VPs. In fact, with one or two exceptions (Beusse) they are ALL over their heads. This has lead to poor strategic decisions, bad hire after bad hire, and a general sense of malaise throughout the company.


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