MEDIA MAVENS; INCREASING PRINT'S VALUE VIA CREATIVE PLACEMENT; TBWA;REATHA BRAXTON

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To the colleagues, clients and media reps she works with, it seems there's one label that perfectly characterizes Reatha Braxton, senior VP-manager of print relations at TBWA Advertising, New York: "Absolut commitment."

Ms. Braxton quarterbacks media planning for Absolut, the nation's leading imported vodka brand and one of the more creative and visible print advertisers.

Since 1984, when she first joined TBWA from Geers Gross, New York, she has been devoted to helping build the Absolut brand for its distributor-first Carillon Importers, now The House of Seagram-through innovative print placement. Absolut ads can be found in about 200 magazines as varied as and Lingua Franca.

"Reatha is a very dedicated, very diligent person," says Claude Fromm, exec VP-media director at TBWA and Ms. Braxton's boss. "She achieves her objectives because she has, I think, a rare combination of attributes: tremendous drive and a wonderful way with people."

Doug Weaver, advertising director for Wired Ventures Ltd., which publishes Wired and the online service HotWired, describes Ms. Braxton as "the media conscience of this creative account.....She's diligent about making sure her client receives the maximum media value for its buy. There's a definite process-both a science and an art-to Reatha's work, and she values doing the process well."

=Although Absolut ads appear in disparate titles, Ms. Braxton says there's a common denominator among them.

"What they have in common is the perceived mindset of their reader," she says. "That mindset is intelligent, inquisitive, upscale, leading-edge. They're not trendy but they're trend setters."

A 19-year advertising veteran who also handles media planning for four other Seagram brands, Ms. Braxton says her greatest challenge on the $25 million Absolut account is culling through the huge and growing list of magazines courting the award-winning advertiser.

But she concedes that such an onslaught has its advantages.

"The high level of interest in Absolut allows us to be inventive not only with our creative execution but also with media," says Ms. Braxton.

The extraordinary interest demonstrated by publications has prompted TBWA to create what it calls the Media Marathon, where magazines are invited into the agency expressly to pitch Absolut.

"[The magazines] are really selected [for Absolut advertising] on the basis of a combination of things," says Ms. Braxton. "A package that would include positioning, pricing, creative ideas..... We even invite the magazines to present creative ideas that are in keeping with their editorial.

"Absolut has a reputation of always being on the leading edge."

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