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After voluntarily ceding his post as chairman-CEO of True North Communications' Foote, Cone & Belding agency to Brendan Ryan in April, Bruce Mason was almost forced to relinquish his True North job at a board meeting in June. The fractious meeting centered on Mr. Mason's inability to fix an unraveling worldwide partnership with Paris-based Publicis Communication. The board ultimately decided to keep Mr. Mason but gave responsibility for Publicis negotiations to a special directors' committee. As of early December, those talks had not led to any resolutions. As for Mr. Mason, he appeared upbeat in a recent interview, talking excitedly about a pending initial public offering for interactive and direct-marketing agency TN Technologies and the '97 outlook for True North.


Although Brad Ball's ascension in October to senior VP-marketing for McDonald's USA surprised few, franchisees of the burger giant sensed that corporate powers were finally serious about addressing domestic sales problems. Only a year after arriving from his own agency, McDonald's regional shop Davis, Ball & Colombatto, Los Angeles, Mr. Ball is credited with shaking things up. He restructured McDonald's ad buys, shifting $150 million from national to local; awarded the biggest new product rollout in McDonald's history, the $75 million Arch Deluxe campaign, to newcomer Fallon McElligott, Minneapolis; and fostered a constant, creative shootout between core agencies, including Fallon and Leo Burnett USA and DDB Needham Worldwide, both Chicago. Mr. Ball is expected to place greater emphasis on regional work next year.


Loren Smith's two-year tenure as senior VP-chief marketing officer of the U.S. Postal Service--which ended in November--was certainly interesting. In addition to trying to start new projects from phone cards to kiosks to new lighting and packaging for stamp displays at post offices, Mr. Smith approved the Postal Service's breaking its advertising tradition of not mentioning competitors, most notably by comparing its Priority Mail service with Federal Express and United Parcel Service. The resulting campaign that broke in March successfully boosted revenues, but it also brought a National Advertising Division complaint, a lawsuit and a retaliatory radio campaign from FedEx. When Mr. Smith switched funds from other programs to the Priority Mail advertising, he didn't fully inform the Postal Service board of governors. After admitting to overspending the $140 million advertising portion of his budget by $87 million, Mr. Smith left.


Chris Jones was tapped to succeed Burt Manning as CEO of J. Walter Thompson Worldwide on Jan. 1, and will be only the seventh CEO in JWT's 132-year history. Mr. Jones, previously agency co-president, has been preparing for this role for the last two years. His vision is to present JWT as a total communications company. To accomplish this, he said he will introduce the Total Branding initiative, the agency's new effort to counsel clients on all marketing disciplines. The goal is to encourage clients to look at the benefits of integrating marketing components. This past year, Mr. Jones played a key role in raising the bar on the importance of JWT creative work. He helped start a program that links senior management compensation, including executives outside of the creative department, to the quality of creative output.


The Food & Drug Administration's battle to limit tobacco advertising set off a legal battle, but it also set up an internal battle within advertising and marketing circles. While Daryl Travis of Arian, Lowe & Travis, Chicago, advocated supporting the FDA, David Milenthal, chairman-CEO of HMS Partners in Columbus, Ohio, urged the ad industry to draft its own code. Mr. Milenthal's call drew some backing. With the possibility of independent regulation starting to gain some support, the Association of American Advertising Agencies, Association of National Advertising and American Advertising Federation at yearend began looking at possibly establishing a third ad review panel under the Council of Better Business Bureaus for complaints that specific adver- tising targeted or reached those too young to consume the product.


After 25 years of constant climbing at Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide, Shelly Lazarus reached the top rung. Ms. Lazarus, 48, succeeds Charlotte Beers as CEO of the agency Jan. 1. The appointment to CEO is Ms. Lazarus' third major move in the last three years. Before being named president last December, she was president of North American operations. Ms. Lazarus is known for being client focused and has a key role in dealing with large O&M clients American Express and IBM Corp. She is widely credited for being the driving force behind snaring IBM's $450 million global business in 1994, the biggest account shift in advertising history.


Less than a year after his departure from Hearst Magazines, Claeys Bahrenburg was back in the spotlight as part of the investment team that bought Petersen Publishing in September for an estimated $430 million--beating out K-III Communications. Petersen titles include a diverse mix of special-interest magazines, such as `Teen, Motor Trend, Hot Rod and Guns & Ammo. Mr. Bahrenburg, a smaller investor, will run day to day operations as president-CEO. Principal backer James Dunning will be chairman-CEO of parent company Petersen Holdings. Although the duo planned to raise the marketing profile, the most visible moves in the months after the buyout were cutbacks. Consumer marketing was moved to New York from Los Angeles and troubled Sassy was folded into `Teen. Yet most industry observers still expect the company to step up its visibility and marketing in the new year.


When Malcolm S. "Steve" Forbes said he was running for the Republican presidential nomination, few took him seriously, despite his pledge to spend $25 million of his own money. Although his campaign was unsuccessful, he recorded a few upsets in several primary elections, made an impact through negative advertising and may even have influenced eventual GOP candidate Bob Dole. Less clear is the long term impact on Forbes. Mr. Forbes took a leave of absence from his job as chief executive of the family-run Forbes Inc. empire and turned the reins over to younger brother Timothy. For his efforts, Tim Forbes was named chief operating officer when Steve Forbes returned. During the absence of the elder Mr. Forbes, ad pages fell. Through October, pages were off 9% to 3,326, while Fortune showed a miniscule gain of 0.3% to 2,543 and Business Week was off 3% to 2,987. Forbes executives noted they had published one less issue through October and that the biweekly title will publish three issues in December.


Few could resist the potent combination of talent, charisma, youth and race of 20-year-old golfer Tiger Woods. After Mr. Woods turned pro in late summer, Nike inked him to a five-year deal valued at $40 million, while Titleist added $20 million over that period. In just two months, his winnings ranked among the top 30 golfers for the year. His appearance in the annual Skins Game in late November sent ABC's ratings through the roof. The next week, he landed on the cover of Newsweek. His play backed up controversial Nike advertising from Wieden & Kennedy, Portland, Ore. The print and TV ads perturbed some by saying that Mr. Woods still isn't allowed to play some courses because he's not white. Some golf executives said that is no longer true.


Home entertainment diva Martha Stewart may have spent most of 1996 resolving long-standing differences in her Time Inc. partnership, but the dispute seems to have had little impact on her fast-growing multimedia empire. Her weekly syndicated TV program begins airing daily next fall. And Martha Stewart Living in February raises it rate base to 2 million. Ad pages for 1996 are up over 20% and circulation is booming--up 46.8% in the first half of '96 to 1.79 million. Plans are afoot to extend the empire, which also includes book deals with Time Inc.'s Oxmoor House and the Newhouse-owned Clarkson Potter Publishers, to syndicated radio and the Internet. Elsewhere, she extended her brand name through alliances with marketers such as Coca-Cola Co.'s Minute Maid Co. and paint company Sherman-Williams. As far as her Time Inc. partnership, an agreement is now rumored to be coming together soon--although that was the word at the end of '95.

Copyright December 1996, Crain Communications Inc.

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