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Renetta McCann a Groundbreaker (and Short!) Advertising Age Megan McIlroy 2/28/2008
Starcom MVG CEO Roasted There were short jokes a-plenty at last night's Advertising Women of New York roast of Renetta McCann, the diminutive CEO of Starcom MediaVest Group . Laura Desmond, CEO of SMG the Americas, joked that Ms. McCann is the "smallest person [she's] ever seen," and showed a photo of Ms. McCann's face photoshopped on Yoda's body. Jack Klues, chairman, Publicis Groupe Media, recalled the words of a former boss, saying Ms. McCann is the "last person to know when it's raining." Meanwhile NielsenConnect CEO Jon Mandel, who once joked to TV Week that he wants to "grow old with Renetta," mocked SMG's marketing proposition that "everything [Renetta] does, she is the first person in media to do it." "There are over 15 firsts," in her company bio, he said. David Verklin, CEO of Aegis Media Americas, took it pretty easy on Ms. McCann, who ripped into him at last year's AWNY roast when he was the honoree. He opted instead to shower her with gifts, including a Carat-branded nightlight, since Ms. McCann doesn't like sleeping in the dark. But the roastee got the last laugh, with some creative Photoshopping. Describing her long history with Mr. Mandel, Ms. McCann flashed a photo of his face on the body of a shiftless hunk from a Harlequin romance novel. Then there was a photo of herself wearing an "I heart David Verklin" t-shirt, followed by one of Mr. Verklin wearing the same tee. And despite all the ribbing, the roasters showed proper respect to Ms. McCann for being a formidable competitor, a smart investor and a ground-breaking figure in the industry. "She's created a world where women can succeed, can break the glass ceiling, in an [industry] once dominated by men," Ms. Desmond said.