Builders: John M. Cassaday

John M. Cassaday, president and CEO, Corus Entertainment

John M. Cassaday, president and CEO, Corus Entertainment

John Cassaday is like that over-achieving kid you hated yet secretly admired in high school. It seems like no matter what marketing effort he has attempted, Cassaday, head of Corus since 1999, has excelled.

In the 1980s, while president of Campbell’s Soup, he both retrenched the position of the company’s soup products and expanded its iconic red label into the growing market of frozen food entrees, says current president Philip Donne. As well, Cassaday helped to position Campbell’s soup as a staple in the then-emerging category of comfort food.

When he helmed CTV in 1989, Cassaday took that CPG view of marketing and made the net more appealing to buyers. Radical for the time, he recalls: ‘We set out to gain an understanding of our clients’ interests and try to create integrated solutions. That started to change the relationships between media players, agencies and clients, where previously there was never much contact between media and client.’

Cassaday has brought that same philosophy to Corus and refined it. YTV, Treehouse and Discovery Kids in particular have attracted and held not only viewers but also toy marketers. ‘You see [it] in the incredibly integrated activities that we [have] with clients like Hasbro and Mattel.’

Observers credit his success to an ability to quickly grasp the challenges of change in an industry. In the fast-paced media world, says Andrew Black, president/CEO of Virgin Mobile Canada and award judge, ‘there are lots of moving parts when you are dealing with pop culture and changes in regulations,’ he says, adding, ‘That’s quite different than selling soup.’