SBJ/March 12 - 18, 2007/Forty Under 40

Sam Sussman


Sam Sussman
Age: 35
Title: Senior vice president, director
Company: Starcom USA
Education: B.A., business administration, University of Wisconsin
Family: Wife, Jackie; sons, Charlie, 5, and Dylan, 2
Career: Has been with Starcom for 13 1/2 years.
Last vacation: Puerto Vallarta in November 2006
Last book read: "Good Night, Moon”
Last movie seen: "The Pursuit of Happyness”
TV shows you never miss: "Entourage,” "Prison Break” and "Rescue Me”
What’s on your iPod: Dave Matthews Band, Jack Johnson, Damien Rice and U2
Pet peeve: Ignorance
Greatest disappointment: That I wasn’t selected in the first or second round of the NFL draft (or any round, for that matter)
Best sporting event you’ve ever attended: The Super Bowl and the ESPYs
Fantasy job: I want to be the GM of a pro sports franchise.
Business advice: If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything — Mark Twain.

John Bogusz always knew Sam Sussman was a fighter. But the CBS Sports executive vice president of sales got an up-close look at Sussman's style late last year when the two sides were wrapping up a challenging set of negotiations that would see Miller Brewing buy spots across multiple sports on CBS. The negotiations were long and tense, but ultimately led to a result that pleased both sides.

"He's a tough negotiator," Bogusz said. "He works and fights hard for his clients."

That's exactly how Sussman sees his role as the key sports negotiator at media buying agency Starcom. As senior vice president for Starcom USA, Sussman oversees investments of $250 million per year from a client list that reads like a who's who of sports advertisers. In addition to Miller, Sussman oversees the Allstate, Kellogg's, Best Buy and Discover accounts.

Sussman has been diligent about taking his clients beyond television advertising. With Miller, for example, Sussman cut a video-on-demand deal with the NFL Network and an emerging media deal with NBA Entertainment. NFL Network's VOD service is among the network's most popular offerings. And the NBA deal cuts across the league's much-praised new media platforms.

But Sussman is adept at figuring out the smaller events that help his clients, as well. When he bought spots for Kellogg's on ABC/ESPN, he targeted presenting sponsorships for the World Cup of Softball and the Little League World Series — smaller events that allowed Kellogg's to use brand integration deals and sponsored vignettes.

Similarly, Sussman bought an official sponsorship with the Pro Bowlers Association for Discover to become the PBA's official credit card.

Sussman is most proud of his work with the Sugar Bowl, where he acquired sponsorship rights for Allstate and brokered the deal without needing to use a sports marketing agency.

The result was a national campaign through TV spots, and a local campaign in New Orleans, the Katrina-ravaged city that hosted the bowl game, and one where Allstate's insurance brand could really resonate. Allstate processed many claims in the city after the hurricane hit.

— John Ourand

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