“I am perseverant, determined and I feel very blessed.”
Member of Adelphi University’s 10 Under 10.“I am perseverant, determined and I feel very blessed.” —Scott Cohen ’05
When Scott Cohen left the University of Hartford to transfer to Adelphi, he had no idea what he wanted to pursue. “At Adelphi I learned what I wanted to do with my life,” he said.
By chance, Mr. Cohen registered for a marketing course at Adelphi with Alvin Rosenstein, which happened to fit his class schedule and fulfilled a business elective. That choice was serendipitous.
Professor Rosenstein’s passion for advertising was contagious. “I ended up taking every single marketing class I could with him,” said Mr. Cohen. “He turned me on to advertising and made me realize, I could do this. I could really like this.”
Like many new graduates, Mr. Cohen enjoyed what he had been doing in his classes at Adelphi, but now that he had his degree, he didn’t know what the next step was. “I was looking at all these listings and job titles and I didn’t know what they meant,” he said. He scoured Long Island, researching small ad agencies, and decided, of those, he would pick the biggest one.
He joined the Long Island advertising agency Walter F. Cameron Marketing & Communications as an assistant account executive. “It was probably one of the best things I did,” he said. “In small agency world you are forced to learn every facet of the business. If you work on an account there is not a media buyer or a strategist or a media planner—you’re it.”
Over the course of the two years he was at the agency, he got to see every piece of the business. When he was promoted to account executive, he began to hone in on automobiles. “I really started to see that I liked cars. It was fun and I knew there was something there for me,” he said.
One day he got a call from the advertising agency Deutsch Inc., offering him a job. One of his contacts within the Saturn dealership had informed Deutsch, who had just won the Saturn account, that Mr. Cohen would be a valuable asset for their team. Mr. Cohen accepted the position and went from working at a small firm in Hauppauge, Long Island to a big Manhattan agency. At Deutsch he managed the Saturn account, a piece of General Motors (GM) and some of the OnStar business (which is a product of GM).
By 2007, what had been a steady career path for Mr. Cohen would be potentially shaken by economic tensions within the automotive sector. “The bottom fell out of pretty much everything, including auto,” he said. Six months before the financial crash of 2008, his team was told by senior management that potential cuts could be coming due to the environment within the automotive category. “I didn’t even know how to look. All I’d done was go to Cameron, and Deutsch recruited me. I didn’t know how the process worked in the big ad world,” he said.
Luckily Mr. Cohen had made a name for himself. Two weeks after he began to look at what could be next if Deutsch would have to make cuts, he received a call from the worldwide agency DBB Worldwide Communications Group Inc., which was looking for an account person with his level of experience to work on ExxonMobil. “That was one of those ‘wow’ moments where I realized, if you work your tail off and believe in the system, it will work,” he said.
He was at DBB for a year when he received a call from Deutsch’s senior leadership, who informed him that they were about to win a big piece of business from Volkswagen. They wanted him to return to Deutsch, at a much higher level. This was an opportunity Mr. Cohen couldn’t turn down. “If you could make a pitch to work on any auto brand, Volkswagen is the one. You know if you get on that account, you’re going to do some really cool stuff,” he said.
Volkswagen lived up to his expectations. As a regional account supervisor at Deutsch, he got to work on Super Bowl ad after Super Bowl ad, including Black Betty, the Punch Buggy Campaign spot featuring Stevie Wonder and Tracy Morgan and other favorites like the Mini Darth Vader commercial. “It was an amazing, unbelievable, wild run,” he said.
Although he was thoroughly enjoying his work with Volkswagen, he began to grow concerned that he had become too much automotive. “In this world, with the economy fluctuating the way that it has, you have to diversify,” he said. “If cars ever fall again, you’re just a car guy.”
Timing is everything. Just when he started seeking other opportunities, he received a note from Ogilvy & Mather, asking if he would ever consider leaving Deutsch for a role working on high profile financial services accounts.
“Financial services might not sound like the most riveting stuff, but I grew up in a household where my parents, brothers, uncles and aunts were in finance. It was one of those things I always wanted to do,” he said. “So it was financial services, which I really wanted to learn because it’s like a different language, and advertising, which I love, at a place that is iconic.” In 2011 he joined Ogilvy and Mather. As a global account supervisor, he is managing an international team in New York, London and Hong Kong.
His greatest accomplishment to date is, without a doubt, being right where he is. “Ogilvy is it. It is the aspirational place for anyone graduating with an advertising degree,” he said. “It’s incredible. I just pinch myself sometimes.”
While Mr. Cohen feels blessed to be in the position he is in today, his success is a product of the time, energy and passion he has put into the career he loves. His mantra: Work as hard as you possibly can. Good things will come if you love what you’re doing.
He also believes in sharing his success with future students at the University that helped him start his career. “When I left Hartford I had no idea where I was going. Adelphi gave me the direction I was looking for. I’m thankful for that,” he said. “I offer to Adelphi anything that they ask of me. I have mentored students and hosted them at my offices. I’ve spoken in classes and for alumni programs,” he said. “I am very lucky. And I don’t ever forget that.”
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