This year, Disney's two big summer movies-"Finding Nemo," with a wave of $330 million at the box office, and "Pirates of the Caribbean," with a $260 million bounty-did just that, thanks to Buena Vista Pictures' marketing unit and Ms. Frudenfeld.
Accomplishing that wasn't easy. Buena Vista's new media agency, Publicis Groupe's Starcom Media Group, Chicago, had been going through growing pains, having secured the account not even a year before. But by the time summer came around, Ms. Frudenfeld succeeded in getting the media agency on track.
"It was far more challenging than either of us thought it would be," says Ms. Frudenfeld, 43, who is senior VP-media at Buena Vista. "They had a lot of turnover. But I'm really happy with the group I have now. They have been doing a good job."
Much of Ms. Frudenfeld's unusual media work for "Pirates" included help from the entire Disney marketing team, especially in arranging a major in-house cross-media platform.
"We got all the media outlets in the Disney company together-ABC, ESPN, some 14 outlets," Ms. Frudenfeld says. "They did a roadblock for a Sunday in April for the whole trailer for `Pirates.' That's something we have never before done as a company." (A roadblock is when one spot runs across a number of networks at the same exact time.)
"Finding Nemo," from Disney-affiliated Pixar Animation Studios, proved another major hit. "When people go to a Pixar movie they know what to expect," she says. "There is not one target we didn't buy. We did a funny [spot] for the kids; we did a warm [spot] for the parents [and others]."
For 16 years first on the agency side with Disney shops Y&R Entertainment, Western International Media and Initiative Media, Ms. Frudenfeld has been in the teeth of a number of successful seasons for Disney's movie business. Top-flight media campaigns have included those for "The Lion King," "Sixth Sense" and "The Princess Diaries."
"When she switched sides going from Western to Disney, it was an interesting one," says Michael Kassan, formerly president of Interpublic Group of Cos.' Initiative Media, Los Angeles. "She did it well. ... She can be tough but fair and demanding."
All this in the face of an ever-changing and more expensive media marketplace to buy ad time, including sky-high prices for TV in last June's upfront market. "I'm surprised by how much money is out there-that's why they got those increases," says Ms. Frudenfeld. "I feel a lot of people panicked."