BBDO executive vice president JoAnn Sciarrino named UNC Knight Chair for Digital Advertising and Marketing

JoAnn SciarrinoJoAnn Sciarrino, executive vice president for BBDO North America, has been named Knight Chair in Digital Advertising and Marketing at the UNC Hussman School of Journalism and Media.

Sciarrino, an advertising and marketing executive with more than 25 years of experience, will work with the industry to test, deploy and refine digital advertising and marketing business models – and share results and ideas widely within the professional and academic communities.

In her capacity as Knight Chair, she will continue her ties to BBDO and its clients to do deep research to help move the digital advertising industry forward. She will collaborate with the school’s Knight Chair in Journalism and Digital Media Economics Penny Abernathy to develop an entrepreneurial hub that drives innovation in the field.

Both chairs are endowed by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation as part of a national effort to recruit top professionals into the ranks of tenured professors. UNC is one of only two journalism schools nationwide with two Knight Chairs.

“The impact of Knight Chairs can be felt as much outside the classroom as it is inside,” said Eric Newton, senior adviser to the president at Knight Foundation. “We’re excited by the idea that JoAnn and Penny will work together to address traditional media’s biggest challenge, the ‘creative destruction’ of its business model in the digital age.”

At BBDO, Sciarrino advised more than 30 global clients for more than a decade in insight generation from research, analytics and modeling, most notably AT&T, Starbucks, FedEx and Hyatt. She and her team led innovation of analytical approaches within the agency, such as advertising claims substantiation, message mix modeling, social media brand attachment and corporate social consciousness measurement. Prior to joining BBDO, she was a practice leader at Burke Strategic Consulting Group.

She taught “Market Intelligence: Making Data-Driven Decisions” as an adjunct professor at the Goizueta Business School at Emory University in Atlanta. Sciarrino earned an MBA with a focus on marketing and decision science from Emory, and a bachelor’s degree in marketing and statistics from Michigan State University.

“It is an honor to join the UNC Hussman School of Journalism and Media,” Sciarrino said. “I am eager to begin this next chapter of my career and to collaborate with Penny Abernathy and other UNC scholars to develop innovative digital advertising models and measurement.”

“UNC is committed to exploring and analyzing the big issues and changes of the early 21st century and this new Knight Chair for Digital Advertising and Marketing – in collaboration with our existing Knight Chair focused on digital economics – promises to answer some of the critical changes facing American media,” said UNC Provost Bruce Carney. “This mix of academic and professional expertise that JoAnn Sciarrino and Penny Abernathy possess offers the industry invaluable research insights. Offering this kind of applied research is the perfect role for a university in a time of change.”

“The UNC Hussman School of Journalism and Media is an international leader in digital media and discovering what comes next in the business of news,” said Susan King, dean of the school. “JoAnn Sciarrino will bring even greater focus on the business side of digital media and emerging advertising models.”

Since 1990, the Miami-based John S. and James L. Knight Foundation has endowed more than two dozen Knight Chairs at leading American universities. The chairs are innovative teachers who, through their own journalism and special projects, advance journalism excellence in the digital age.

About John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. The foundation believes that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more information, visit