The Talented Mr. Cantena
For more than two years, Catena faithfully trafficked for some of Espy's highest profile clients. But his hunger to learn inspired him to begin looking for new challenges. "[Ogilvy & Mather] was looking for an assistant production person, and I thought it sounded like it was right up my alley."
Catena landed this position, too. Almost immediately, he was assign-ed to O&M's American Express account. "At that time, American Express had more than 22 divisions that we were servicing. It was a huge, demanding account, and it was one that really taught me the craft of advertising," recalls Catena. "Fortunately, while I was working at O&M, I met a lot of people who took time out of their own schedules to teach me, mold me and ensure my own success. Frank Vergone, Jerry Finnegan, Tom Raikakos—they were just three guys who really took me under their wings and taught me the ropes."
After three years, Catena took a job as assistant production manager at Hill/Holiday in New York City. "That year—I think it was 1986—Hill/Holliday was named agency of the year. It had a hot, creative reputation, but after I'd been there for three and half years, things were a little shaky. It was a time when a lot of agencies were cutting costs and laying people off. Well, I thought my job was on shaky ground, but instead of letting me go, they let my boss go, and I was given the opportunity to run the production department, which had three or four people back then. Here I was, 29 or 30 years old, and I had become a manager," Catena remarks.
Hill/Holliday treated Catena well throughout the next six years he spent with the firm. He recalls, "They gave me a lot of opportunities to better myself and continue my education."