Top Execs Gather at New York Event

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Also See: Photo Page From Event
Cindy Tripp, associate director-media and marketing at Procter & Gamble Co.
Jeff Lanctot, Avenue A/ Razorfish VP-media and client services
Jim Ensign, VP-marketing communications, Papa John's
Don Miceli, VP-media services, Kraft Foods
NEW YORK ( -- Nine of the most innovative thinkers in media gathered this week to discuss a landscape complicated by blogs, video iPods, podcasts, and satellite radio at Advertising Age's annual Media Mavens luncheon.

No doom and gloom
There were no doom-and-gloom pronouncements or shivering at the often-confusing new environment that's been completely shaken up in recent years. Instead, there was talk of sure-footed solutions to the ever-vexing question of how to reach the consumer.

Scott Berg, worldwide media director for Hewlett-Packard Co., summed it up best. Media has moved from being an expense, he said, explaining HP's model for viewing media expenditures as a kind of mutual fund in which dollars are regularly reallocated to media that prove to be most effective.

New importance
Much of the discussion focused on non-traditional ways to reach consumers. Because of the proliferation of new outlets, media agencies and marketers who watch over media expenditures have become more and more important.

�We've been going back to school on the consumer,� said Cindy Tripp, associate director-media and marketing at Procter & Gamble Co., describing the company�s shift to a consumer-centric communications planning approach. That new thinking led to a launch program for Tide to Go in which public relations and interactive, rather than a TV blast, led the way.

�It questioned the default laundry model of how to launch a product,� she said.

Overlooking consumer behavior
But not every marketer is doing this, as it was pointed out by Jeff Lanctot, Avenue A/Razorfish VP-media and client services, who last year was responsible for over $300 million in billing and works for clients like BestBuy and AstraZeneca. �As they focus on things like search and rich media, marketers have forgotten to step back and look at consumer behavior,� he said.

MediaVest USA CEO Laura Desmond expressed her concern that agencies aren�t thriving in the rapidly developing digital, non-linear field. �Do we have a big enough imagination to play in the field?� she said. �Can we dream bigger?�

It wasn�t all about new methods. Mr. Lanctot, for instance, advised marketers to think about an outlet they might have last thought about in 1998: their companies� Web sites.

Impact of Web sites
�People forgot about Web sites,� he said. �There�s this sameness about Web sites wherever you go. They can really be a central expression for a brand.�

But at the center of all the Mavens� addresses was the sense that in the absence of an effective media plan, even the sharpest, most compelling commercial messages will get lost.

�You can have the greatest creative in the world and if it doesn�t reach the right people in the right context, it doesn�t matter,� said Susan Eberhart, who, as exec VP-director of communications planning at ZenithOptimedia, oversees planning for Nestle USA�s portfolio.

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