THE MARKETING 100; LYNDA RAE RESNICK;FRANKLIN MINT

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When Lynda Rae Resnick and her husband Stewart bought Franklin Mint from Warner Communications, it was a low-profile purveyor of coins, medals and other collectibles. A decade later, Franklin Mint is a marketer of quality collectible artwork with 8 million customers worldwide.

Vice Chairman Ms. Resnick's strategy? Go upscale.

Ms. Resnick, 52, established alliances with top designers and artists including Bill Blass, Givenchy, Mary McFadden and Erte for dazzling designs. She also forged partnerships with prestigious museums, including the Louvre and even the Vatican, to create fine collectible art.

And Ms. Resnick upgraded offerings to reflect her own taste and design expertise. "Extravagance in Rubies," for example, her original design ring, is a Franklin Mint catalog feature for 10 monthly installments of $290 each.

In addition to putting a formidable $120 million in-house ad budget behind the Franklin Mint name, she is involved in all aspects of new-product development. Her flair for identifying trends led Ms. Resnick to sense the potential of pop cultural icons, and led to such hot-selling products as the Paramount "Star Trek" tri-dimensional chess set, a best seller at $195.

With the Resnicks at the helm, sales have gone to about $600 million, up from about $250 million in 1985. That gives Franklin Mint nearly 30% of sales in the direct-mail collectible industry, calculated at $1.7 billion by consultant Unity Marketing.

Franklin Mint's original business, coins, is now just 1% of total sales, highlighting the scope of Ms. Resnick's dramatic shift in direction.

But it isn't over yet. Ms. Resnick is diversifying into clothing, fragrances and skincare products, and plans to add 20 stores to Franklin Mint's current 50 museum-quality retail stores-including one on tony Rodeo Drive.

Ms. Resnick, who formed her own ad agency at age 19, is also going back to her roots, teaming with marketers of top brand names, including Coca-Cola, Harley-Davidson, Gold Medal flour and Campbell Soup to market advertising memorabilia.

"We're not your grandmother's collectible company anymore," she proudly proclaims.

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