Interview with Tom Madden


To tell Tom Madden to stop spinning and inventing is like telling the Federal Government to stop spending. He is the quintessential “Spin Man,” the title of his engaging memoir recounting his rise from a harrowing career as a newspaper reporter for The Philadelphia Inquirer to the pinnacle of the PR world. One of his latest inventions, The Knife and Forklift™, is making the media rounds and gobbling up air time almost as fast as his drag racer client Alexis Dejoria drives her Alcohol Funny Car. Kathy Lee Gifford was among the first to try his eating exercise combining dumbbells and utensils on The TODAY Show on NBC, the network where Madden was a programming whiz and VP under then CEO Fred Silverman. More recently, Ellen DeGeneres tried her hand at eating with his weighty invention behind a car steering wheel. “Anything wrong officer?”

As an inventor, while living in Boca Raton, Florida, Tom’s wife Angela mentioned that he ate too much too fast and he should put some weights on those utensils. He did! The Palm Beach Post and Sun Sentinel, Florida’s papers covered Tom’s invention as well as the Today Show. Tom’s invention and sure enough they wound up on the show and with that, orders flooded in. First as a novelty, then as a tool for over eaters. Then we started to receive emails from people that were using the Knife and Forklift as a necessity in steadying tremors. This Florida born invention has helped many that used to actually tape sand bags onto the utensils to help steady tremors. Tom’s patent was filed here in Florida

To introduce a new anti-cellulite cream from client Rexall Sundown, he once persisted until store clerks at Duane Reade Drugstores in New York wore “Don’t Panic” buttons to assure female customers there would be enough of this fabulous substance to go around. Then a piece he arranged on NBC Dateline ran nearly eight minutes, setting off $50 million in media exposure and a retail stampede resulting in $54 million in sales. When Rexall Sundown’s founder Carl DeSantis sold the company in 2000 for $1.8 billion he credited Madden’s publicity for much of the company’s successes, including making OsteoBi-Flex the $100 million-a-year arthritis champ.

Madden has reinvented himself several times. Starting as a newspaper reporter, he spun himself up to the top executive ranks in network television. As a reporter he’d do anything to get the story. Once he disguised himself as a waiter so he could interview quarantined passengers of a hijacked airliner. Next he tried his hand at speech writing and corporate titans like the Chairman of Kellogg’s Company sought out his talent as a wordsmith. So impressed to see one of the speeches Madden wrote for him reprinted in The New York Times, he flew in from Battle Creek, MI to treat Madden to a sumptuous breakfast at The Plaza Hotel starting with bowls of Raisin Bran. Nothing short of media meteoric have been Madden’s many reincarnations from reporter, to speech writer, to head of PR at ABC and to the #2-ranked executive at NBC before launching his own firm and writing best sellers like King of the Condo, a satiric novel based on his experiences as president of a Florida condo.

When he launched TransMedia Group in 1981, the boutique firm landed the largest company in America at the time, AT&T, as its first client. Madden helped Ma Bell through its tumultuous divestiture, guiding the then-besieged chairman Charley Brown through the media underbrush up to a safe clearing where the company reinvented itself. The City of New York also was quick to tap Madden’s magic with media and he was assigned to promote fair housing in the city. The brilliant PSA campaign he created earned Madden not only Mayor Koch’s gratitude, but a Bronze Anvil Award from the Public Relations Society of America. Recently Madden’s illustrious PR firm in one year promoted the calorie-burning soft drink Celsius from a penny stock selling for three cents a share to a NASDAQ-listed company, where its stock soared to over $5 a share after TransMedia booked Celsius spokespersons and weight-loss testimonials on over 100 TV stations nationwide.