I grew up in New York City and I’ve lived in a variety of zip codes, including 94109 (San Francisco), KT10 (London) and 55407 (Minneapolis). Now I call Portland, Oregon; land of craft beer, bicycles, coffee and sports marketing, home.
I started my advertising career at NYC’s 1,000+ person Dancer Fitzgerald & Sample. (Yep, the one mentioned on “Mad Men.”) I worked on General Mills and Sara Lee, and launched Easylink, the first commercial email system. My team was an early creator of content marketing campaigns that delivered two Gold EFFIES. I went from AAE to General Manager of the Minneapolis office in five years.
After Dancer was sold to Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising Worldwide, I moved between New York and London, running the Northwest Airlines account, Johnson & Johnson European marketing efforts, and business development in Europe and North America.
Then I discovered the Internet.
In 1995, AOL’s Ted Leonsis told me to get the hell out of advertising and go digital. So I did.
I was reborn digitally, starting out as Founder and CEO of the industry-leading New Jersey Online (NJO) for Advance Publications (owner of Conde Nast, Random House and a national newspaper group). We invented early-stage online advertising solutions, digital sales programs, and social media platforms that helped make NJO New York’s leading online newspaper and the Internet’s most popular weather site. Our design studio built early websites for clients like Microsoft and Nabisco. I was named The Newspaper Association of America’s “New Media Pioneer” in 1999.
In 2000, I became CEO and Co-Founder of ActiveBuddy, a pioneer in natural language processing technology that lets people talk with computers. (You’re welcome, Siri.) SmarterChild, ActiveBuddy’s instant messaging personal agent, had over 30 million users and accounted for 5% of all global IM traffic. Our commercial customers included Comcast, Intel, Time-Warner and Radiohead. The company raised $12 million in funding and was bought by Microsoft.
Looking for new adventures, I headed west to Bend, Oregon and bought RalstonGroup, a very creative regional agency. During my decade-long tenure as CEO, we grew our regional and national footprint, bought and merged into the Portland agency Citrus, and expanded our account list with some accounts you may have heard of: Dr. Martens, Harrah’s, Nike’s Major League Baseball and college sports programs, the United Nations, University of California and Montana Lottery. My partner and I sold in 2011 after executing a five-year plan to build agency value and sell.
I created and nurtured successful businesses. I can help you do the same with a business development program or a marketing plan that will help you reach your goals, whether it’s sell in five years or become the next Wieden+Kennedy, R/GA or Atomic.
“Peter and I partnered at Saatchi & Saatchi managing the Northwest Airlines account. Peter’s combination of account management, marketing and creative skills made handling the complexities of an international account like Northwest significantly easier. He was always there to bounce an idea off of (and on occasion made it better). He also knows his way around a wine list.”
Rarely have I seen a more creative advertising agency strategist or manager.”
Lance Mald, Executive Creative Director North America at Avon
“Peter knows the agency business, is always ahead of the curve, and thinks way outside the box and at lightning speed. He’s exactly the kind of person I’d want on my team if I still owned an agency or just about any other business that thrives on innovation.”
Barbara Findlay Schenck. Author, “Small Business Marketing For Dummies”; Co-Author, “Branding For Dummies”
“In my 34 years of CPG marketing experience, I can honestly say that Peter is probably THE most creative, out of the box, marketing mind I have ever tapped. He is very attuned to the latest consumer tools and insight, yet he is also quite practical as he quickly applies these solutions to making business results improve fast.
Peter gets it big time. He knows the process; he can push quickly through the muck to serve up caviar on the other side He¹s helped me at General Mills, Nabisco and now at Weetabix.
Peter is one of a kind. I have rarely seen anyone who could cut through the clutter to deliver rational, sound business-building insights any better.”
Steve Van Tassel, CEO, Weetabix North America
“I have worked with Peter many times in varied projects over the past 25 years. Peter is one of the very few strategists that can think both analytically and creatively. All his recommendations were intelligent, appropriate, creative and ultimately, very effective.”
Beau Fraser, Managing Director, The Gate Worldwide, New York
“If you are looking for someone to help you grow your agency look no further. When my partner and I launched Fiction Tribe we went to Peter for his perspective on our agency’s business model and insights into how to build our business development plan. Peter’s understanding of client motivations and how to position and sell agency services is unparalleled.”
Mike Caplan, Partner, Managing Director, The Fiction Tribe, Portland
“They tell stories of bearded men on mountains or in caves who have answers. Peter is one of these men (sans beard and crazy eyes). Mr. Levitan has experience, but more than that, he has been gifted with the ability to see beyond the norm. Applied to business, this sight can propel an organization into the stratosphere. Also, Peter is always willing to buy the drinks.”
Steve Klinetobe, Creative Director, Aisle7; Digital Creative Director at Portland’s Citrus
“Peter is that rare manager who has both a vision and the ability to execute against it. That alone would make working for him a tremendous learning and career growth experience—which it was—but he’s also a talented manager who knows how to inspire and get the most of his team. In short, he knows how to makeideas work, doesn’t over-complicate things and has a nose for best path to success.”
Nicholas Ascheim, SVP, Digital Media at BBC Worldwide Americas, Inc.