The Player: Marks adds American touch to MPG's European culture

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Elizabeth Marks is bilingual. An important detail, because Media Planning Group, aka MPG, the media agency where she was recently promoted to chief marketing officer, was founded in Spain, is owned by the French-by Havas to be exact-its worldwide headquarters is in London, and it has just opened new U.S. headquarters in New York City, a block away from Ground Zero.

Ms. Marks, 37, is helping the shop assimilate in the U.S., landing quintessential American accounts, like the $27 million Amtrak account. Havas' Arnold Worldwide office in McClean, Va., won the creative side of the business.

The shop also was a contender in high profile standalone media pitches, including the Gap, lost to Omnicom's PHD.

"We are in pitches now that we were never in before," said Ms. Marks, from Mallorca, Spain, where she was attending a worldwide agency meeting.

Ms. Marks joined the shop late last year as senior VP-director of business development. Her job as chief marketing officer requires her to prospect for new business, manage the strategy group (called Catalyst), and market the agency as a new world shop with old world roots.

She is an American herself, born in Westport, Conn., but she has spent much time living and working abroad, mostly in Spain, where she sharpened her second language.

"The big story about our heritage in Spain and Europe," Ms. Marks said, "is that it gives us a good vantage point. We look at the consumer from many perspectives. Marketing is all about understanding different cultures, and we're about as diverse as you can get."

Ms. Marks is an intense, hands-on executive, who seems to work constantly, at all hours.

"She always worked 24/7, even with a family at home," said Lou Schultz, former Initiative CEO and Ms. Marks' former boss, who now has his own consulting practice in Detroit. "She's smart, dynamic and she's got the right blend of aggressiveness and humility."

background

Ms. Marks worked at Initiative as senior VP-director of business development, just prior to joining MPG.

Before Initiative, she managed the business development and marketing group of Think New Ideas, New York, and worked for almost a decade at Frankfurt Balkind Partners, in business development, also working closely with its largest music-industry client, Delsener/Slater Enterprises.

But it was in Madrid, where she moved in 1988, shortly after attending school at the University of London, that she really first made her mark, working for two years as a marketing consultant with Andersen Consulting (now Accenture).

"I learned the management-consulting model of business at Andersen, which I have applied to my work at MPG," Ms. Marks said. "And it also helped my Spanish."

Fast Facts

Name: Elizabeth Marks

Age: 37

Now: Chief marketing officer, Media Planning Group

Challenge: Make MPG an American brand

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