Winner

ASPiRE
ASPiRE evp, ad sales Mary Jeanne Cavanagh and her team faced quite a challenge as they launched this brand new network in June ’12. For one thing, the net planned to target African-Americans, who have a growing number of viewing options these days including BET, Centric, TV One and even OWN, among others. Plus, getting top-notch advertisers to commit before a network has launched, much less proven itself, is never easy. But Cavanagh and company had a plan. Instead of casting a wide net and hoping to bag dozens of advertisers, the team launched a “Charter Brand Partnership” program designed to lure top brands by giving them temporary exclusivity on the net. It was the less-is-more approach, and it worked. ASPiRE soon struck deals with 5 blue-chip brands—The Chrysler Group, L’Oreal USA, Nationwide Insurance, Coca-Cola and Walmart—and held a star-studded event at Cipriani Dolci in NYC. Coca-Cola and Walmart even signed development deals and made early upfront buys on GMC TV, which supports ad sales for ASPiRE. In addition, the team took advantage of the joint ASPiRE-GMC TV bus tour, giving 700 buyers and clients a chance to see upfront presentations while attending special excursions and evening karaoke parties and wine tastings. ASPiRE founder Magic Johnson even showed up on a few of those outings, to the thrill of bus riders. Nothing’s harder than selling big national advertisers on a startup. And this team did it with creativity and finesse, creating scarcity and exclusivity. And with great results.
 
Honorable Mentions

Comcast
Comcast knows how to sell its wares to consumers, but this time we’re specifically recognizing Comcast Business Services for generating $2.4bln in revenue selling to businesses. This team—established and led by svp Terry Connell—has grown sales by 34% in ’12. That’s called teamwork. And leadership.
 
Ovation
This team continues to impress, with 50% growth in total ad-sales revenue and a 40% increase in average national account spend—in the process adding 30 new advertisers in ’12. Not bad, Ovation. Not bad at all.
 
Turner Broadcasting System
A realignment of ad-sales management led to the promotion of Greg D’Alba and Donna Speciale to bigger roles in ’12, while also supercharging the entire department with renewed focus. Challenges remain, but this team continues to make major strides and acquisitions.

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