Execs & Accounts for August 27, 2004

Friendster picked up NBC as a client for a promotion of the TV network’s hit reality show, “The Apprentice.” In anticipation of the new season of the show, which stars real estate mogul Donald Trump, Friendster has posted profiles of all 18 of the show’s contestants. The Apprentice’s second season begins September 9.

Users can browse the profiles, accessible through a mini-site at apprentice.friendster.com, post themselves as “fans,” and express their likes and dislikes about each candidate.

Friendster says it plans to unveil “new products and features wrapped around this new concept of media promotion.” The NBC deal leverages the experience and relationships of new CEO Scott Sassa, the former NBC Entertainment president which Friendster hired in June.

The social networking player also recently hired ad sales chief Charles Barrett from AOL. The Friendster “profiles as marketing” concept was first employed for Dreamworks’ film “Anchorman” in July.

aQuantive interactive agency unit i-Frontier hired Ken Thurlbeck as creative director. Thurlbeck has an illustrious agency background, having served as international creative director with Grey Advertising in Europe and VP and creative director with Digitas. He spearheaded early Web projects for Sony and EMI and has won numerous awards, including a Gold Clio and several Webbys.

The Think Tank’s (T3) Kirk Drummond will head up the agency’s new marketing research and development team. Currently VP of creative and innovation for the integrated agency, Drummond will now also guide its new development team, called T3 Fuse. Fuse’s stated purpose is to conceptualize “first-of-its-kind technology, ingenious business approaches and unique products and technologies.”

“Ninety percent of agency work is reacting to client requirements and parameters,” said Drummond. “With no boundaries, Fuse can proactively generate new creative ideas and present clients with out-of-the-box solutions to solve their business challenges.”

Integrated marketing agency The Point Group hired Jan Haney as executive VP of client services. Haney is the former chief operating officer for Publicis Dialog Dallas, where she serviced Nestle, GlaxoSmithKline and IBM Software Laboratories, among other clients.

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