Winner
Vanessa Benfield
SVP, Advertising Sales
IFC
Almost immediately after coming on board in ’10, Benfield became a huge asset to IFC during its migration away from the sponsorship model and toward a fully ad-supported business. She and her staff of 12 dedicated execs have greatly expanded IFC’s roster of advertisers from 66 to more than 100 as she works on innovative campaigns that satisfy IFC’s savvy and tricky hipster-ista audience. Benfield’s efforts to woo new advertisers has since attracted a bevy of new clients from casual dining, beverage, auto, insurance, financial and wireless/telecom sectors—just to name a few. And she’s not done yet. Some of her recent big gets include household names like Jaguar, American Airlines, Kellogg’s, Verizon, Papa Johns and many others. IFC’s innovative brand integration with Subaru in this season’s “Portlandia,” as well as its partnership with Geico to create a customized, Portlandia-themed spot with Maxwell the Pig are just a couple of examples of Benfield’s ability to think outside the box to serve clients. IFC’s smart and street-wise audience makes such product integrations all the more challenging, but Benfield manages to pull them off by injecting the campaigns with just enough snark to fit the net’s “Always On. Slightly Off” sensibility. Deborah Marquardt, svp, content strategy & partnerships at L’Oreal, put it this way: “Vanessa is truly unconventional, interesting, unexpected and informed—just like IFC.” We agree…
 
Honorable Mentions

Peter Wright and Melissa Drucker
Co-VPs, BBC America Media Sales
BBC America
These two talented execs drive impressive sales results despite the challenging economy in recent years. Not only were BBCA sales up 48% over the last year, but they grew 52% in ’11-12, 49% in ’10-11 and 39% in ’09-10. It’s almost hard to imagine such success—but Wright and Drucker can.
 
Liz Janneman
EVP, Ad Sales
Ovation
Total ad sales revenue was up some 50% in ’12 under Janneman, who also increased average national account spend by more than 40% and bagged 30 new advertisers during the same period. She’s been getting results like that year after year. Nice.
 
Susan Leigh
VP, Ad Sales, DIY Network
Scripps Networks Interactive
Leigh led DIY Net to a record-breaking year in ’12, with $8mln in new business and 87 new advertising relationships. Not only that, but she spearheaded the mega-successful Blog Cabin Giveaway promo that let viewers vote online to influence a remodel of 1880s farmhouse in Maine.
 
Bill Morningstar
EVP, Advertising Sales
MLB Network
Morningstar has tripled MLB Net’s ad sales revenue since he joined the then-startup net even before it launched in ’09. And he’s hardly done, securing more than 30 new advertisers in ’12 and increasing sales by another 40%. Client retention is as high as 80%. With this kind of success under his belt, we’re excited to see what’s next…

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