The Fishbowl: Katie Coteman, Warner Bros Discovery
The Media Leader’s interview series asks the media industry’s top salespeople revealing questions, drawn from our fishbowl. The questions will be drawn at random and contain some tricky posers set by the commercial chiefs themselves.
This week is Katie Coteman, GVP head of advertising sales and partnerships at Warner Bros Discovery.
Katie Coteman started her career as a sponsorship manager at Carat in 2000, later becoming associate director for communications planning.
She moved to Discovery Inc in 2011 as director of brand solutions and advertising and over ten years worked her way up to vice president of advertising and partnerships.
As part of the merger with Warner Media, she became vice president of advertising and partnerships in 2022.
Which deal in your career are you proudest of?
I have been lucky enough to work on a lot of deals in my career, of different kinds. When I was in sponsorship back in the early 2000s, we did some of the biggest sponsorships at the time — Bailey’s and Sex and The City, Mini and Cold Feet.
But the deal I am most proud of is the one I worked on in 2018 as part of the then, Discovery UK & Ireland leadership team. We developed the strategy and delivered the execution of our exit from our stake in the ownership of UKTV.
As a result, our flagship channel Quest grew 33%, our overall portfolio grew 21% in 2020 — because of how we leveraged our linear real estate. We also saw 38% growth in our advertising revenue as we were able to optimise our agreements with our sales partners in Sky Media and Channel. It completely revolutionised our UK linear advertising business.
Describe your WFH setup in no more than 10 words.
In construction — having just moved house!
What are the three most important skills that a media salesperson needs in 2022?
Openness — to new things and new ways of doing things. Change in our industry is coming from every direction at the moment and we need to be curious, embrace disruption and be keen to learn in order to continue being successful
Commercial mindset — we talk about having an owner’s mindset in terms of our own business but it is the same when dealing with clients. You need to really understand a client’s business challenges not just their media brief
Storytelling — there are so many ways to reach audiences now, it is critical that we know how to engage and inspire those we are talking to about why they should partner with us
Which advertiser would you love to work with (but don’t already) and how would you sell specifically to them?
I’d love to work with M&S. I’d sell discovery+ to them as being the biggest ad-supported subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) service in the UK, super-serving multiple communities of passionate superfans — from foodies to home-makers, wedding fans to cycling enthusiasts, and people who love to get under the skin of everything that makes us human.
There is something for everyone but we can deliver targeted creative and messaging to different audience segments in an environment with minimum ad load and highly-engaged consumers.
What’s the bravest thing you have ever done?
It is a hard one to talk about but I have twin boys who were born at 26 weeks whilst we were on holiday in Spain. I would say I had to be pretty brave every day for at least the first two years or so of my youngest son’s life.
He had a tracheostomy and was fed through a tube and every day, just keeping him alive was a challenge. Thankfully, they are both happy and thriving now (or as happy as any 13-year-old boys can be!) but it definitely changed me as a person in terms of resilience and dealing with stress.
**Peer question** In 2023, what job in the industry do you LEAST envy and why?
This is a tough one, I’d say all of our jobs are hard with both macro-economic and industry-specific challenges. One observation though is that for early careerists the industry has lost a bit of the passion, craft and sense of fun it used to have.
As leaders it is our role to ensure we are making media the amazing industry to work in it should be.
** Question from Craig Tuck, chief revenue officer at Ozone Project.
**Peer question** Based on what you know now, what one decision in your career would you change and why?
I would have had the guts, as a young exec, to push back when a boss made me try to sell an idea to a client I knew they wouldn’t buy into. It ruined my relationship with that client, got me moved off of an amazing account and really undermined my confidence for several years.
** Question from Matt Salmon, UK sales director at Snap.
**Peer question** What’s the best piece of advice a boss or colleague has ever given you?
You are only as good as the people in your team.
** Question from Laura Chase, chief commercial officer at WeAre8.
If you could change one thing about your job, what would it be?
I absolutely love the fast pace of our industry but sometimes I wish we could slow down, spend a bit more time on review, reflection, training and learning.
What’s the best book you’ve read so far this year?
Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus. I am a voracious reader of fiction and this book was both very funny and incredibly sad, I actually cried at the end.
Telling the story of a female research chemist in the early 1960s, it really brought home how far our opportunities as women have come in a relatively short time, although still a work in progress!
Read more Fishbowl interviews here and see what media’s top salespeople say about working in the industry and what concerns their clients. To suggest an interviewee, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.