A senior partner at Ogilvy & Mather, New York, and the head of the shop's non-traditional media group, which oversees outdoor media among other areas, Ms. MacDonald is so cutting edge that the group is still fiddling with its name. Ms. MacDonald says she's offering dinner at Peter Luger's or a day of pampering at Elizabeth Arden to anyone who can come up with the right moniker.
`NOT PRINT OR TV'
The reason for the group's current ambiguous name is that it handles "everything that's not print or TV," including phone kiosks, the Web, commuter rail boards and airport channels.
Ms. MacDonald describes the group as less of a "reactive" buying group and more of a "strategic" group that works with the general media planners to champion new media avenues and also fine tunes methodologies for tracking their effectiveness.
For Lever Bros.' Surf detergent, looking to reach the young, laundry-despising crowd, Ms. MacDonald decided the medium had to match the message. Knowing her target market is more likely to be out on the town than sitting at home watching TV, Ms. MacDonald suggested postcards in nightclubs and wall posters, in addition to outdoor boards and bus and shelter ads.
For Swatch Watch USA, she convinced the transit authorities in Chicago, San Francisco and Boston to allow "brand trains," where commuters see only Swatch ads plastered from one end of the car to the other.
In the case of Kraft Foods' Maxwell House, she masterminded a low-risk venture that allowed the coffee brand to have a presence on the Web without a home page.
"There's this overwrought sense of urgency about getting on the Web without considering strategically the marketing of the brand," she says. Instead, she says, marketers must define their purpose for going online, other than simply to have a cyberspace presence.
Ms. MacDonald brought in The New York Times as a partner, identifying sections of the site that go hand-in-hand with a cup of coffee, like crosswords, book reviews, and the travel & leisure section. The Maxwell House logo was then used as an icon to facilitate access for cybersurfers looking for a "coffee break."
Ms. MacDonald got her start in advertising at the Outdoor Advertising Association of America, where she began as a receptionist and worked her way up to director of marketing in eight years. She went to night school during this time at Baruch College to earn her degree in marketing and advertising. In 1991, she went to O&M to do a presentation, and was offered the chance to start the new out-of-home media group. Three years later, the group changed its name to the non-traditional media group.
Diane Cimine, chief marketing officer for OAAA, which frequently taps its former employee as a speaker for industry events, says Ms. MacDonald blends style and substance when she speaks.
"She's smart and dedicated and seems to have an endless amount of energy," Ms. Cimine says.