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Barbara Britton joined Essence 10 years ago as VP-advertising director, after stints at MTV and Katz Television. At Essence, she has overseen explosive growth of integrated marketing and events, including the fourth annual New Orleans Essence Music Festival this July. The magazine also orchestrates the Essence Awards, airing May 21 on Fox, and has a thriving merchandise arm selling licensed eyewear, hosiery and books.

Age: 45.

Coup: Helping build one of the nation's premier events in just four years through an African-American women's magazine, and getting a new lead sponsor: Coca-Cola Co.

Growth strategy: Using events to target diverse audiences and provide product demonstration, sampling and promotional opportunities for advertisers.

Insight: Events must generate additional revenue while driving the magazine's brand. Powerful event marketing opportunities are never free.

Opinion: Advertisers are waking up to the fact that ethnic women are crucial to success in selling cars, cosmetics and consumer electronics. By 2000, more than one-third of all young adult consumers will be black, Hispanic or Asian.

Forecast: African-American women are starting to spend more on travel, financial services and computers.

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