"It has been an extraordinarily unique year from the events of Sept. 11," said Frannie Danzinger, president and media director of ProMedia L.L.C. and the "Up & Comer" among this year's Best & Brightest Media Strategists.
The 10 media planners profiled represent a mix of backgrounds and media planning expertise, from handling b-to-b work at large, full-service agencies to running their own media planning businesses.
But they have one thing in common: A dedication to b-to-b media planning and the insight to devise successful media strategies, even in tough economic times.
Each has a unique perspective when it comes to b-to-b media planning and getting the client's message across to the target audience.
"Interrupting somebody is not enough; you have to interact with them," said Alan Johnson, senior VP-director of media services at Mullen, and this year's BtoB Media Veteran.
Almost all of this year's honorees agree that an integrated approach is best when developing b-to-b campaigns, even for online clients. When devising the media plan for the Interactive Advertising Bureau's first branding campaign, Patricia Calderon, senior VP-account services at Stein Rogan + Partners, proposed print, as well as online, to reach targets that weren't necessarily thinking about interactive media.
The media planners selected for this year's Best & Brightest report were nominated by BtoB reporters and editors, ad agencies and clients. All have performed outstanding work for b-to-b clients and have demonstrated success in their careers. On the following pages, they share their experience and strategies for developing effective b-to-b media plans.
Since starting in the media business 30 years ago at Benton & Bowles in New York and joining Mullen 16 years ago, Alan Johnson has seen U.S. culture become awash in advertising.
"You can open a fortune cookie and see an ad," said Johnson, senior VP-director of media services at Mullen, based in Wenham, Mass.
This explosion of marketing messages has made the media strategist's job that much harder, but Johnson has devised several ways to place ads where they have an impact.
"Interrupting somebody is not enough; you have to interact with them," he said.
Johnson has seen the role of media strategist change over the years. "It used to be that my job was to write the best media plan, to reach the most people, to get the greatest number of impressions at the lowest cost," he said. But that job has shifted, he said, particularly in b-to-b.
"Our job should be to write a media plan that best invests a client's money to build their business," he said. "In short, media strategy isn't about reaching the most people, it's reaching the right people."
Over the years, Johnson has learned to respect the power of media brands for generating a halo effect for the ads that run in them. For instance, he recalled a modest ad buy in Sports Illustrated, which was not at the top of the heap in terms of reaching customers, had the unintended effect of boosting the morale of a client's sales staff. Media isn't always about reaching end users. Sometimes it's about getting the sales people "jazzed up," Johnson said.
He has applied this lesson at Nextel Communications, which sponsors Major League Baseball. "A [Nextel] sales guy can go into a regional office of Xerox, and say, 'Hey, I'll take you guys out to the ballgame,'" he said. "They can use league merchandise as a promotion, too. And what suddenly happens is that those [sales] guys start to see national advertising not just as this myth, but something that they can use and has a real impact on their business."
When the Interactive Advertising Bureau wanted to run a marketing campaign in support of the effectiveness of online advertising, the obvious media buy was online. But Stein Rogan + Partners and Patricia Calderon, senior VP-account services, proposed a counterintuitive approach. Instead of just going with an online buy, Calderon proposed a print ad buy to supplement the online component.
"From the very beginning we wanted to do print," Calderon said, "because, going back to one of our original goals, we wanted to reach markets that were not necessarily thinking about Internet media."
The IAB's campaign launched in July. The print portion of the campaign begins this month and will eventually include publications such as Forbes and The Wall Street Journal.
Online, it is running on a number of IAB member sites, ranging from About.com to the B2BWorks ad network, in a plan that media-buying firm Underscore helped develop with Stein Rogan.
Calderon joined Stein Rogan in 1995, after more than a decade working for American Baby Group as marketing director. Among her first jobs at the agency was exploring the nascent World Wide Web and interactive marketing.
"I was helping lead the way for us to build the foundation of how we would approach media buying and planning on the Web," she said. "That was a fascinating and exciting time to be doing that. There were no rules, and I got to make up a lot of stuff, which I like to do."
While the Internet provided plenty of excitement, Calderon has always believed in an integrated approach, as her approach to the IAB campaign proved-combining a variety of media to hit the target audience.
-- Sean Callahan
Kevin Arsham is a b-to-b evangelist in a b-to-c world. As the media supervisor and b-to-b specialist at BBDO Worldwide, New York, Arsham is in charge of what he calls "the other side of advertising."
While most of the business at BBDO, the fourth-largest U.S.-based ad agency, is business-to-consumer, it has some healthy b-to-b accounts. These include about $20 million in media billings for General Electric Co.'s b-to-b business.
"B-to-b makes the world go around," said Arsham, who has been in the media planning business since 1991. He points to GE as a classic example of a company that makes products that drive the business world.
"GE manufactures materials, whether it's a wire or a compound, and sells it to another company that's going to take that material and sell it to the public," Arsham said. "Just about everything we have is made and advertised through b-to-b."
Arsham handles about 55 GE business accounts, including GE Medical Systems, GE Aircraft Engines, GE Plastics and GE Capital Group.
For GE Plastics, the agency recently conducted a study of design engineers to determine their perception of GE materials, which are used in everything from automobiles to computer casings. The results helped them hone the creative on messages reaching engineers in different industries. The agency also broadened the scope of GE's trade advertising from design engineer publications to those covering the aerospace and automotive industries.
Arsham conducts a training program at the agency on the importance of b-to-b in all types of advertising, and sits on the b-to-b committee of the American Association of Advertising Agencies.
Arsham started on the sales side of the business, selling advertising for WNGM-TV in Athens, Ga. His first job at an ad agency was as assistant media buyer at Austin Kelley Advertising in Atlanta. He then became a media planner at Wilson, Horne, McClelland & Gray, Atlanta, where he got his first exposure to b-to-b clients. He joined BBDO in 1999.
"I've always had a passion for trade advertising," Arsham said.
-- Kate Maddox
Advertisers and agencies are starting to learn from their mistakes in the online arena, said Maggie Boyer, VP-media for Seattle-based interactive agency Avenue A Inc. "B-to-b in particular was a much more difficult sell than it has become in the past 12 months," she said. "The problem was in marketing high-consideration products and services over the Internet." Interactive marketing wasn't interactive enough to establish relationships and build trust, Boyer added.
But new, more sophisticated multimedia technologies and, more importantly, the steady growth of broadband service and use, have given Avenue A and others the tools they needed to "legitimize branding and awareness efforts online," she said.
Having worked in digital media for the last six years, Boyer anticipated these developments and quickly put them to work for b-to-b clients such as MSN Advantage and the Thomas Register.
An avid snowboarder, she's never been afraid to take risks for herself or her clients. But, she noted, Avenue A is results-driven to the extreme. "We obsess about key metrics more than any other agency in the world," she said. A new tactic that Boyer has begun to exploit is taking the "daypart" strategy of broadcast media-reaching decision-makers during specific parts of the day-to the Internet.
"Advertisers and advertising venues have just caught on to this idea in the past three to six months," she said. "Before, we didn't really think much about when our messages would be reaching people. But now we can target business buyers at their peak online times during the work day."
Boyer, named BtoB's "Up and Comer" last year, started out in the advertising business at age 15, as an intern for Young & Rubicam Inc. She eventually became a media planner for Y&R's Wunderman Cato Johnson agency, and later formed her own agency, iBalls L.L.C., New York. She was hired by Avenue A, which later acquired iBalls, in 1998.
-- Roger Slavens
Frannie J. Danzinger, president-media director of ProMedia L.L.C., Cleveland, is just beginning to see a rebound in ad spending nearly a year after the terrorist attacks rocked the market. "It has been an extraordinarily unique year from the events of Sept. 11," said Danzinger, who founded her agency in 1997, after working for six years at Cleveland-based Wyse Advertising Inc.
Danzinger, whose agency will handle between $25 million and $30 million in media buying this year, saw firsthand how the attacks caused marketers to drastically alter their ad spending.
"Of the major corporate advertising clients that are mostly b-to-b, about 50% scaled back significantly, to the point where they almost ceased advertising," Danzinger said.
Most of her clients are traditional b-to-b marketers, such as Duke Energy Co. and Little Giant Pump Co. She also handles all media buying for HSR Business to Business Inc.
Immediately following the terrorist attacks, she said, many of her clients halted ad campaigns and cut their ad budgets. The first quarter of the year was slow, but she is beginning to see a rebound.
"It has been a buyer's market," she said. "The media are anxious to get clients comfortable buying again, and they are stepping up to the plate."
One new client of ProMedia is Flight Option, Cleveland, which provides time-sharing on private jets. ProMedia won the business in April, and in June began rolling out a multimedia campaign using print, online and direct. Another key component of the media plan, she said, is forming partnerships with trade publications on events. For example, at a boat show in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., this fall, Flight Option will partner with Elite Traveler magazine to have a large presence at the show.
"That category [jet and yacht ownership] is really hot right now," Danzinger said. "It's really a nice situation to be in."
Pam Eleftherio, VP-Media Services at Carat Interactive, has 13 years of experience in offline direct response advertising, TV commercial production and digital media planning. Her traditional marketing experience is paying off especially well now, as b-to-b marketers use the Web for branding in addition to direct response.
"The Web is becoming a more viable medium for branding," said Eleftherio, who joined Carat in 1996, when the Web was still in its infancy. "We were negotiating on the Web before there were any standards at all."
Now, working for b-to-b clients such as Royal Philips Electronics, Progress Software and Speechworks International, she uses an integrated approach to media planning. Eleftherio said she joined Carat Interactive because of its roster of high-tech clients. Her first clients at the agency were early adopters of the Web, such as America Online Inc., The Wall Street Journal Interactive and Royal Philips Electronics.
"E-relationship building is a very big part of all of our campaigns, [as is] maintaining communications on an ongoing basis," Eleftherio said.
For a recent campaign to build awareness of Speechwork's Global Speech Day, Carat used a combination of media, including print, direct, PR, e-mail, search and viral marketing. The goal was to boost attendance for the online event for speech recognition software, and the campaign succeeded in generating 4,700 attendees for the virtual event.
The campaign was also designed to build relationships with prospects. "We layered an e-mail relationship program into the campaign," Eleftherio said. "It's a great example of using the Web as a cost-effective global medium."
Eleftherio began her career in commercial TV production for CinemaGraphics. She then moved to Briggs Porter Lewis as a communications manager working on direct response advertising for clients such as Sybase, Object Design and Reebok.
-- Kate Maddox
Sharon Gallacher handles a very big job for a very big client. As senior partner for Ogilvy & Mather's media unit, MindShare, she oversees IBM Corp.'s international media strategy in more than 35 countries.
A Brit by birth, she's worked in both the U.K. and U.S. on the client, media and agency sides, and has extensive experience in both global and local markets.
"My experience helps me understand specific countries' standpoints so that I can better coordinate media efforts worldwide with regional planners," Gallacher said. "Having been in their shoes before, I have a good feeling for what their obstacles and opportunities are."
Last year, Gallacher capitalized on a major international opportunity. She helped create a multimillion-dollar sponsorship of Time magazine's and CNN's "Global Business Influencers," an editorial project that spanned TV, print and the Web in media vehicles around the globe.
"From our research, we think it's the first time anything like this [sponsorship] has been done in these media worldwide," Gallacher said. "It was a huge and very successful undertaking. Our anecdotal feedback has been extremely positive."
Though Gallacher doesn't handle U.S. media strategy for IBM, she does work in New York and sees one area where the U.S. lags behind the world in the media arena. "Wireless marketing is huge-and quite sophisticated-in Japan and Europe, but the U.S. can't seem to figure it out."
Gallacher joined Ogilvy & Mather, London, in 1992, after four years of working in the marketing department at Nestle Rowntree in the U.K. She relocated to New York in 1994, where she began working on U.S. and international media for clients including Kimberly-Clark Corp., Eastman Kodak Co. and Sheraton, which is now part of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc.
-- Roger Slavens
Alan Jurmain, exec VP-director of media services at Lowe, New York, described his own nightly routine as a way of illustrating the challenge of reaching a b-to-b audience: "I've got the baseball game on without the sound; I'm reading The [Wall Street] Journal and listening to Mozart with headphones," said Jurmain, who has been media director at Lowe since 1987. "You have to get these guys in and out of uniform. They have lives," he said, referring to business executives.
It's a strategy Jurmain has brought to UPS' ongoing "Brown" campaign. Ads have been running in business publications such as Supply Chain Logistics, Fortune and Business Week, as well as Sunday morning TV news shows.
Jurmain also convinced UPS to put some of its ad dollars into more mainstream broadcast vehicles, placing spots during TV broadcasts of National Football League, National Basketball Association and National Collegiate Athletic Association games.
"This way, we're putting the message in C-suite vehicles the targets want to watch, rather than the ones they have to," Jurmain said.
For D&B, Jurmain picked vehicles where the audience is likely to pay close attention to credit-checking organizations, publications such as Inc and Money and cable TV programs focusing on finance. For Mass Mutual, which relies heavily on agents to generate sales, Jurmain helped create a media plan featuring a letter from the company chairman enclosed in an issue of Fortune and distributed to agents. The letter described new products in the pipeline that would interest the agents.
"We don't subscribe to the bundling approach," he said. "We'll look at packages but only if they make sense and don't dilute the marketing plan."
Jurmain started as a media planner at Ogilvy & Mather and joined SSC&B (now known as Lowe) in 1981, developing media plans for Coca-Cola USA and Heineken. Lowe is part of the Interpublic Group of Cos.
Regardless of which b-to-b account he's working on, Gary Kagawa's media choices revolve around one central premise: direct response.
Whether it's TV, print, Internet, radio, direct mail or outdoor advertising, a blended and targeted media strategy that involves a call-to-action works best, he said.
"At the center of everything is the prospect," said Kagawa, co-media director at Wunderman, a division of WPP Group PLC's Y&R Inc. "We think about the creative and how media provides that channel or venue to reach that person."
For example, in developing a pilot program for IBM's personal computing division, Kagawa was charged with determining the viability of developing a new market segment. He and his team examined the historical channel behavior of the target audience and selected a combination of media for the campaign that included newspaper, direct mail and telemarketing.
The strategy was such a success that Wunderman won a larger share of IBM's business last September. That was when IBM consolidated its direct marketing accounts from three agencies to two: WPP units Wunderman and OgilvyOne. Wunderman became the agency of record for IBM's global lead generation initiatives. Prior to that, the agency's media group handled accounts for IBM's business units in Latin America and Asia only.
Kagawa and his team devise IBM's lead generation media channel strategy online and offline and then turn to Mindshare, WPP's media buying unit, to execute that strategy.
Strategic response planning, Kagawa said, involves studying results to make projections. "You have to look at learnings from results to improve targeting and improve efficiency," he said. "Our understanding of media and behavior comes with database insight to help us define and deepen our analysis in getting from point A to point B."
Kagawa has more than 20 years of experience in media planning. He started at Y&R in 1981, working on the General Foods media account. After spending a decade at Y&R and moving from consumer packaged goods to b-to-b magazine media planning, he worked for OgilvyOne for two years. He came back to the Y&R family by joining Wunderman in 1994.
Donna Mercer, who has spent two decades on the media side of the advertising business, said a good media plan is one that isn't full of gimmicky buys.
"Philosophically," she said, "our approach is to develop strategic alignments of media companies with our client's objectives and strategies. So it's not 'This is a really cool idea: Will it work for us?' It's a top-down, instead of a bottom-up, approach."
But that doesn't mean Mercer is opposed to going against the grain.
For example, enterprise software company and Howard Merrell client SAS Institute ran an ambitious campaign late last year in Fortune and other national business media when most tech companies were slashing ad budgets.
Although it has recently scaled back its ad campaign, privately held SAS reported revenue of $1.13 billion in 2001, its 25th consecutive year of revenue growth.
Another client of Mercer's is BB&T Corp., a Winston-Salem, N.C., bank that has a large b-to-b target in its marketing plan.
"A lot of b-to-b advertisers will only use print," Mercer said, "but we know that the targets are exposed to other media."
So the media plan for BB&T included print but also "narrow cast" television and radio. "We surgically extract the programs or day parts that deliver the audience we want. We've made that part of the entire media plan, which makes it three-dimensional instead of just one-dimensional," she said.
BB&T reported second quarter revenue of $329 million, for a 23% gain over the second quarter of 2001.
Mercer began her career at ad agency McKinney & Silver and joined Howard Merrell 16 years ago.
Howard Merrell will handle approximately $20 million in media billings this year.
-- Sean Callahan