SBJ/March 10-16, 2014/Forty Under 40

Forty Under 40: Will Pleasants

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HEATHER C. JOHNSON PHOTOGRAPHY

Will
Pleasants

Company: Wasserman Media Group
Title: SVP
Age: 38
Where born: San Antonio
Education: University of North Carolina (B.S., business administration)
Career background: Orlando Magic, sales/marketing associate (1997-98); CSE, variety of positions, ending in director of strategic planning (1998-2006); Wasserman Media Group, 2006-present
Family: Wife, Angie; children Cooper (5) and Beckett (18 months)

Favorite apps: Uber, Twitter, Team Stream.
Favorite way to unwind: Playing with the family.
Guilty pleasure: Good bourbon.
Worst habit: My wife would probably say road rage.
Groups supported: Triangle Spokes Group and Wakefield UMC.
Person in the industry I’d like to meet: Tim Cook.
I have a fear of … : Failure, so it’s a motivator.
Most adventurous thing I’ve ever done is … : Bungee jumping in Interlaken, Switzerland.
2014 will be a good year if … : We continue to grow and hit budget.

If you draw a line across the beachheads of sports marketing consulting in the South, it’s a path that Wasserman Media Group’s Will Pleasants has walked.

More than seven years with CSE in Atlanta on clients like Cingular, and another eight years with Wasserman’s consulting group in Raleigh/Durham working with the likes of American Express, have left him with a predilection for marketing creativity and an absolute passion for strategic planning, since it’s the basis of marketing tactics. (At least, it’s supposed to be.)

From a sales and marketing associate at the Orlando Magic more than 15 years ago, Pleasants has worked his way to senior vice president and unofficial COO of WMG Consulting, which has, including its acquisition of U.K.-based agency Ignite last year, doubled in size over the past 2 1/2 years. “I get to touch every side of our business every day and balance where we are going with having the right people working in the right places,” Pleasants said.

Pleasants’ unrelenting client focus has its roots in the time he spent as a teen working in a Greenville, N.C., haberdashery. “In that business, you learn to build trust and you live off of repeat customers,” he said.

SBJ Podcast:
Executive Editor Abraham Madkour and project editor Mark Mensheha talk about the Forty Under 40 selection process and the class of 2014.

According to co-workers, Pleasants’ strategic focus is complemented by a willingness to take on any task. An example? At the 1998 Iron Bowl game between Alabama and Auburn, Pleasants was told that CSE client Keebler required some grassroots marketing help. Shortly thereafter, Pleasants was patrolling the sidelines — wearing the costume of a Keebler elf. Perhaps he regrets admitting at the time that he had some experience as a mascot during his time with the Magic; or perhaps not. A photo from that day remains in his office.

“I keep that picture to remind myself not to ask people to do something I haven’t done,” he said. “It keeps me grounded.’’

— Terry Lefton

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