AAAI's 2005 Marketing People of the Year: Haaretz's Guy Rolnik, Producer Yardeni

Guy Rolnik, founder and editor of Haaretz's TheMarker, and Tamira Yardeni, CEO of Teddy Productions, have been named the marketing people of 2005 by the Advertising Agencies Association Israel (AAAI).

Yardeni received the award thanks to the success of "A Star is Born." The AAAI recognized Rolnik for his transformation of the Internet brand TheMarker to a daily financial paper, which replaced the daily business section of Haaretz. This year was the first time that two people won the annual award; they are sharing it because they scored the same number of points from AAAI voters.

Tamira Yardeni, who owns Teddy Productions, is the woman behind the success of the television programs "A Star is Born", "Our Song" and "Born to Dance." "A Star is Born" began as the sing-along show "We Won't Stop Singing." However, the program soon became a successful talent show. In 2005, the third season of the program enjoyed average ratings of 24.3 percent, which translated into $3.5 million in advertising revenue for the franchisee Keshet, which broadcast the show.

"A Star is Born" also created several stars, such as Ninette Taib, Harel Skaat, Harel Moyal and Yehuda Saado. Likewise, the program revived the careers of artists Riki Gal, Zvika Pik and director Tzedi Tzarfati.

Yardeni started out as a singer. While directing Teddy Productions, along with her husband Dudu, Yardeni produced numerous musical artists, including Yehudit Ravitz, Si Himan, Yigal Bashan, Korin Allal, Yehuda Poliker and the late Uzi Hitman.

Rolnik began his career at Galei Zahal (IDF Radio). Haaretz hired him as a reporter after his release from the army, and he proved instrumental in changing the business section of the newspaper, eventually launching TheMarker in partnership with Haaretz. In late 2003, he presented Haaretz management with his strategic marketing plan to transform the newspaper's business section into a new daily now known as Haaretz/TheMarker. The new paper was launched last January, with Rolnik leading the way.

15% revenue growth

Despite the risks involved in melding an Internet brand name with print media, the move led to a significant increase in Haaretz subscribers and a substantial gain in exposure to TheMarker, both on the net and in print.

TheMarker's Internet site was rated the number one economic web site in Israel last week, reaching 10.9 percent of surfers in the country, some 10 percent better than veteran economic site Globes.

Exposure to TheMarker magazine shot up 130 percent in a recent TGI poll, the sharpest such rise in the market.

Haaretz advertising revenue expanded a robust 15 percent in 2005, two to three times the growth rate of its competitors.

Rolnik said at the awards ceremony, "It was a process involving a large team of journalists, editors, writers and management at TheMarker and Haaretz, who adopted a new and exciting vision for the organization and made it happen in most excellent fashion."

In wake of TheMarker's substantial success in widening the paper's subscriber base, strengthening its standing and situating it among a new audience of young readers, the Haaretz group intends to initiate additional changes in other sections of the paper.