DRMA Spotlight: New Digs, but the Same Commitment to Excellence1 Jun, 2012 By: Thomas Haire
The incredible attention to detail at the Inter/Media Group of Companies’® brand new home office in Woodland Hills, Calif., makes perfect sense to anyone who has spent time with the company’s CEO and president, Bob Yallen. In his 27th year with the company his father Syd founded in 1974, the younger Yallen’s passion for the advertising business is surpassed only by his longtime commitment to driving InterMedia to new and greater heights.
“In college, I was an All-American sprinter at Cal State Northridge, and I’d say that I still move pretty quickly,” he says. “I was working summers through high school and college with Inter/Media, and after I got my bachelor’s degree in business, I went on to law school because I wanted to bring a little more depth to what Inter/Media could offer.”
Yallen’s J.D. from Southwestern University School of Law had an emphasis in entertainment law, something that’s been a key driver of the agency’s entertainment division — one of the agency’s 10 business units. “We’ve become a company with assets in the media, advertising, entertainment, communication, marketing and creative sectors,” Yallen says.
That expansion figures in Yallen’s quarter-century quest to find a building to house the company’s corporate headquarters in the Los Angeles area (Inter/Media also has offices in New York and Dallas). “One reason we wanted to buy our own building was to control our own growth and destiny. Also, from an investment standpoint it just penciled out,” Yallen says.
Inter/Media found a perfect location featuring a pair of buildings on a large parcel of land in the San Fernando Valley. The bulk of the headquarters is in a three-story building that Yallen, his management team, and his architects have transformed with a clear vision.
“Shubin and Donaldson came up with a design with a depiction of the sound wave of the word ‘yes’ throughout the building. Basically, we’re always asking for the order from our clients, and through our efforts, our clients are always asking the consumer to buy their products and services,” Yallen says.
Another design element is a tribute to Syd Yallen, the founder who passed away in 2009. “Throughout our facility you’ll see that depiction of the sound wave backlit by the color purple, my father’s favorite color. He signed checks and a lot of other things in purple. We feel that he’s with us constantly,” Yallen says.
The remembrance is well-deserved for the elder Yallen. “My dad was one of the first executives in the media industry to recognize that not all advertisers needed a full-service agency,” Bob Yallen says. “Originally, Inter/Media was a general media buying service, handling clients like American Airlines and 7-Up Bottlers of Southern California.”
But that started to change when Bob Yallen joined the agency full time in 1985. “I was very visual, so I found it easier to land clients from a full-service standpoint. Shortly after joining the company full time, we started to offer creative and production services. As a young guy in the business, I was looking for low-hanging fruit, so I targeted lawyers, trade schools and similar types of clients. So we migrated toward the direct response space,” he says.
Migrated — and grew in size and scope. Among those 10 business units, Inter/Media’s capabilities in creative, entertainment, retail and more have all combined to empower the company’s initial core competency — media buying. Yallen gives much of the credit to the company “having the best talent in the business,” but also recognizes the need to constantly innovate.
“Media is and always will be at the focal point of our vision,” Yallen contends. “We recognized the need for more efficient media options, as well as the need to separate ourselves in the industry. Therefore, we’ve created The CPM Network™ — our proprietary unwired platforms that span cable, syndication and radio. Another huge area for us is technology. Accutrak® is our flagship optimization stewardship program for DR, hybrid and brand advertisers. We’ve also developed is IQ Plus™ for our retail clients to be able to optimize their retail advertising based on the client’s unique trading areas and other variables.”
Another area Inter/Media is strong in is matching celebrities with products and IP licensing deals. “We specialize in celebrity deals,” Yallen says. “This year alone, we have six celebrities through Inter/Media Entertainment who are now representing our clients, including Larry King, Joan Lunden, William Devane, Chuck Woolery, Jimmy Johnson and Joe Theismann. Celebrities are an incredible asset to a company and can be used effectively in PR, meet-and-greets, company motivational speeches and other strategic ways.”
One of the best examples of the power of celebrity for a long-term Inter/Media client is the pairing of ex-football coach and current NFL analyst Jimmy Johnson with male-enhancement product ExtenZe. “We’ve been their AOR (agency of record) for more than 10 years. In that time, the category has become a very competitive space.”
When Inter/Media earned the ExtenZe business, it was a long-form DRTV product. “They’ve migrated from long-form advertising as the only channel into a major retail player,” Yallen says. “With competitors constantly entering the market and in order to get retail distribution, we knew we needed something that would establish tremendous credibility. That translated to football coach Jimmy Johnson — both an NCAA champion and Super Bowl winning coach. He established enormous credibility for the brand in concert with well-executed advertising. With the expertise of our retail distribution unit, InterQuantum®, we have created a very successful product in the direct and retail channels, obtaining the top SKU in various categories.”
By maximizing its vast capacities, Inter/Media expects to continue the ongoing expansion best signified by its recent move. “We’re very excited about the next five years,” Yallen says. “We would not have invested in ourselves like we did with our new building and other initiatives. We’re going to continue to organically grow our business and to concentrate on areas that we dominate.”
Yallen also says that entertainment, technology and acquisitions are also areas of growth. “We want to increase our entertainment efforts because we really believe that’s a great niche for us and a great solution for many of our clients. We also believe we can provide celebrity deal-making for other companies, not just our clients,” Yallen says.
He adds, “Furthermore, we need to keep investing in ourselves to help our clients with solutions through technology, to be able to optimize and maximize their efforts. In the acquisition area, we have some targets we are talking to, not only in our direct segment but other sectors, as well, to grow our portfolio and offer our clients tremendous depth in both resources and services.”