Under Richman, Lifetime Will Eye More Multiplatform Deals

Debbie Richman believes her years on the agency side have prepared her well for new job.

“I’ve been sitting on the other side for a long time, so I know what clients and brands want,” said Richman, who was announced on Friday as the new executive vice president of ad sales for Lifetime Networks, after serving as managing director of media agency OMD. “Lifetime is a great brand itself and I look forward to working with client in establishing sponsorships and partnerships.”

With media splintering and access points proliferating, Lifetime, she says, is well-positioned to capitalize on this evolving landscape.

“More and more brands are trying to be seen/heard with content on different platforms,” said Richman, who is stepping into the role formerly held by longtime ad sales leader Lynn Picard, who resigned last June. “Lifetime has an array of properties from which to create multiplatform opportunities.”

To that end, the women’s programmer not only operates Lifetime and Lifetime Movie Network, the two most-watched distaff-targeted service in cable, but has developed with Glam Media, a vertical network of women’s sites. It has also pushed content to mobile devices in concert with Verizon and Sprint, and is preparing in the second quarter to launch Lifetime Game Club, in conjunction with casual game proponent Real Arcade.

That’s not to say every deal is a multiplatform match, she said, agreeing with a reporter’s observation that 30-second commercials still work.

“We’d be in another business if they didn’t,” said Richman, who would only describe her courtship by Lifetime as “not long.”

She said the strength of the women's brand and the chance to work with to Lifetime Networks president and CEO Andrea Wong, to whom she will report, was very appealing. “An opportunity to work with Andrea -- she’s the best in the business – is exciting and invigorating.”

Starting her new job April 1, Richman will arrive at Lifetime just as the upfront selling season begins to shift into gear. Her forecast calls for success for cable in general and her new employer in particular.

“It’s been a great year for cable. Lifetime had a strong upfront last year. Lifetime has such a strong brand and great viewer loyalty. Their brands need our networks and other assets," she said.

Last year, Lifetime said it racked up double-digit gains during the Madison Avenue bazaar and was one of the first cable networks to complete its upfront sell-through.

Senior vice president of pricing and planning Rick Basso and senior vice president of ad sales John Matluck, who completed Lifetime’s upfront sales push last year after Picard’s departure, remain with the company, according to a spokesman. (For more news on the upfront, click here.)

As managing director, national broadcast, OMD, since 2005, Richman authored a number of industry “firsts.” With her dedicated team for digital investment, she crafted the historic combined linear/digital upfront with MTV Networks. She also pioneered exclusive product integration deals with both cable and broadcast networks that spanned OMD's client portfolio on both traditional and emerging platforms. such as the Doritos sponsorship of Stephen Colbert's mock run for the presidency, The Hail to the Cheese: Stephen Colbert Nacho Cheese Doritos 2008 Presidential Campaign.

During her 10-year tenure, Richman also created the OMD Summit, gathering client and industry leaders to discuss new approaches to the upfront and leveraging branded entertainment.  Additionally, she was instrumental in leading the OMD National Programming Forum for her clients that educated them on how best to partner with a content provider.

Previously, Richman was director of national television at Optimum Media (which folded into OMD in 2002).  At Optimum, she managed the investment of billings for over 40 blue-chip accounts, including Hershey, Universal Pictures, Mobil, Clorox, McDonald’s, State Farm and JC Penney.

Richman ran the Johnson & Johnson national broadcast agency of record for 10 years at two separate advertising agencies: as vice president, group media supervisor, at McCann-Erickson from 1993-1997, and vice president, media supervisor, at Young & Rubicam from 1988-1993.  She began her media career in 1984 at Ogilvy & Mather where she worked on accounts such as Smith Barney, International Playtex, Duracell, Campbell Soup and Hallmark.