Apostolou got into PR as a “happy accident,” she says, and worked at several agencies before moving to Rainbow Media in 2003, originally to work for music network Fuse.
Apostolou started as VP of media relations for both AMC and WE TV in 2005, but as AMC started to introduce original programming, with Broken Trail and Mad Men, Apostolou eventually moved to working solely with AMC.
“The job has changed and that is the most exciting part,” she says. “You can plot your own path, build it from the ground up with this incredible team of executives and really creative development people. It's been amazing because we've been able to form the network together as a team.”
One person on that team is Charlie Collier, EVP and GM of AMC, who describes Apostolou as creative, passionate, and brand-focused.
“Not only does she have her finger on the pulse of pop culture,” he says, “but... she is able to find every moment of intersection between the brands and what is going on.” For Mad Men, Apostolou worked to make the show part of pop culture, through fashion, design, the history of advertising, and even other TV shows. Mad Men was a category on Jeopardy on October 17.
“The whole team was very conscious that we don't want to stay on the entertainment pages,” Apostolou says. “That's always been my specialty – that everything has to cross over because otherwise you don't identify with it.”
Bringing Mad Men to this level took a few years, and Apostolou says the network started with a two-year strategy for PR, even before knowing Mad Men would be around for a second season. The first year of the campaign focused on introducing the media and the public to writer Matthew Weiner, who had previously worked on The Sopranos. They also had the challenge of introducing the Mad Men world, with its 1960s advertising agency, mid-century fashions and customs, and, of course, all the smoking and drinking.
“In our opinion, Matt was the star of the first season in the sense that he was the one who had the heft and he was the most recognizable,” Apostolou says. “So we really focused on breaking Matt out.”
The second phase included breaking out cast members like Jon Hamm and Christina Hendricks, who are now well-known and featured on the cover of magazines, or hosting Saturday Night Live.
In her New York office, with the Emmy for Broken Trail and Peabody for Mad Men on the desk, Apostolou discusses the highlights of her career, besides, of course, watching Mad Men win the Best Drama Emmy.
While an AE at Ketchum, a campaign involving Maxwell House and Habitat for Humanity earned a Silver Anvil, and her time working with WE led to a stunt in Times Square involving a 50-foot wedding cake, a hidden ring box, a $50,000 prize, and some brides-to-be. And fans of American-Idol-reject William Hung can also thank Apostolou for helping get Hung a record deal while she was working at Fuse.
“When Theano believes in a project and understands it, it becomes a part of her life,” Collier says. “That is such a rare thing.”
Rainbow Media – AMC, VP of publicity, talent relations, and promotional events
Rainbow Media – AMC and WE TV, VP of media relations