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If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, the last year has been full of compliments for Lynn Picard and her five-year tenure at Lifetime Television.

In a nod to the power of women as consumers -- something Ms. Picard has ridden to ad sales success -- two challengers threw their hat in the ring. But then Time Warner's Turner division and Conde Nast Publications backed away from their team effort to create a women's TV network, only Oxygen Media was left to fight.


That expression of interest and the cadre of women-oriented Web sites that have become available makes one point crystal clear: Lifetime has found a niche that others would love to join.

"Obviously, advertisers and agencies recognize the value of women in today's economy," Ms. Picard says.

Her passion for the niche and her salesmanship have been rewarded recently with a promotion to exec VP-sales by network President-CEO Carol Black. Ms. Picard has been in charge of the network's ad sales since 1994.


Ms. Picard has helped triple ad revenues since her arrival at Lifetime from ESPN, where she was VP-business development. During the most recent robust upfront selling season, she led the 15-year-old Lifetime to its most successful sales season ever.

In her new role, she'll try to keep the margins growing while trying to build as potent a sales machine in Lifetime's Internet and e-commerce ventures as she's done for the cable TV network. Her strategy: leverage the Lifetime brand.

"With the relationship and connection we have with women, the opportunities [to leverage Lifetime's brand on the Internet] are endless," says Ms. Picard, who also serves as chair of the Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau's National Sales Advisory Board. "Women trust Lifetime, so from an e-commerce standpoint, you can't buy" that kind of cachet.


She started her career as a spot buyer and then became a media planner on the agency side before eventually moving to ESPN.

"Of all the people that I see in this job, Lynn is one of the people who stands out because she's such a class act," says Jon Mandel, co-managing director of Grey Advertising's MediaCom, New York. "She has a lot of presence and she gets it. She understands all parts of the business, the clients' perspective, the agency perspective and the network perspective and she can bring it all down to a common focal point."


Her exposure to two networks with different gender identities -- ESPN and Lifetime -- has actually made her job easier, she says.

"I think I saw the power of a brand," she says of her ESPN days from 1989-94. "It was unbelievable to walk into [Adolph Coors Co.] and both partners would roll up their sleeves and figure out a way to work together. I'm seeing that at Lifetime, looking for ways to work together. It's not about the traditional buy-

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