Amid CBS executive suite changes over the past couple of decades, there has been one thing advertisers could always count on – an upfront presentation at Carnegie Hall and Jo Ann Ross putting on a show — often dressing like a character from a popular series — to make the network’s sales pitch.
Now the 30-year company veteran is stepping down and moving to an advisory role as Chairman, Paramount Advertising. John Halley, who previously served as EVP and Chief Operating Officer, Advertising, will succeed her as President, Paramount Advertising, overseeing the company’s domestic multiplatform sales efforts across its portfolio of broadcast, cable, digital and streaming assets. He will report to Bob Bakish, President and CEO of Paramount, effective immediately.
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In her new position, Ross will help to ensure a smooth transition. A shrewd dealmaker and corporate survivor, she was one of very few top executives on the CBS side of the business to take charge of their combined CBS-Viacom operation, and her stepping down truly signals an end of an era as broadcast is relinquishing its ad selling power to digital.
“Jo Ann is a true trailblazer in our industry and a dominant force behind the success of CBS, ViacomCBS, and now Paramount Global,” said Bakish. “As the world of entertainment has evolved, Jo Ann has been on the forefront of advertising innovations that have been instrumental to establishing Paramount as a trusted partner and must-buy for advertisers everywhere. Her talent and passion for this business is only matched by her exceptional ability to lead through change, building talented teams and enduring client relationships throughout her illustrious career. She has made an indelible mark on Paramount during her record tenure, and we are grateful for her continued contributions.”
Ross joined CBS in 1992 as VP of Olympic Sales and rose to become the first woman to serve as sales chief of a broadcast network and the longest tenured sales head in broadcast television. She shepherded transformative advertising practices for the industry that instituted the company’s first-mover advantage and sustained market-leading position, from creating new ways to sell network programing and genre-defining franchises to adapting to the advent of digital video and streaming platforms. Along the way, her sharp wit, ingenuity and steadfast commitment to her team and clients became a hallmark of her leadership.
Halley joined Viacom in 2007 and has led commercial and business operations in various roles for Viacom, ViacomCBS and now Paramount’s advertising efforts over the last 15 years. He has worked closely with Ross to unify the sales team post-merger and drive a go-to-market strategy. Halley’s efforts have led to multiple product introductions, including the development of Vantage, an audience targeting platform; the launch of EyeQ, Paramount’s scaled, multi-billion dollar connected TV ad product; and the creation of OpenAP, the advanced activation platform for the convergent video marketplace. Halley currently serves as Chairman of OpenAP.
“John is a proven leader and visionary who has driven innovations in Paramount’s advertising business that have set the pace for the entire industry for years,” Bakish said. “His deep understanding of both the linear and digital businesses, and the underlying forces driving their change, has guided key advancements in our advertising products and empowered us to deliver better outcomes for our clients. Given the rapid pace of evolution in advertising, John is ideally suited to lead Paramount’s sales organization forward.”
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