Power Players, 2008: 11 - 15

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11 DAVE
PEACOCK
VP-MARKETING
ANHEUSER-BUSCH COS.
AD BUDGET:
$1.35 BILLION
AGENCIES INCLUDE:
  • Havas' Euro RSCG, Chicago
  • Omnicom's DDB, Chicago; Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco; LatinWorks, Austin, Texas (Omnicom owns 49%)
  • POWER PLAY:
    Dave Peacock, a 17-year Anheuser-Busch veteran, just took the reins of A-B's $1.3 billion-plus marketing machine last year. He's played a central role in the company's transformation from being simply a purveyor of megabrands such as Budweiser and Bud Light to a broad portfolio company that's learning to master the art of balancing the handselling and niche marketing required for specialty brews and line extensions with the still-central task of pushing its biggest brands via major platforms such as the Super Bowl. Mr. Peacock has also embarked Anheuser-Busch on an ambitious brand-extension strategy focused on flavor and style, placing bold and thus-far-productive bets on Bud Light Lime and Budweiser American Ale.
    DOWNSIDE:
    The acquisition of Anheuser-Busch by Belgian/Brazilian brewing giant InBev—best known for aggressive cost cutting—could jolt the organizational balance A-B has struck in the past year under Mr. Peacock. As a former operations guy, however, he's expected to play a leading role in the combined company. Foreign ownership of A-B also complicates the Americana-fueled positioning of Budweiser.
    12 DEBORAH
    WAHL MEYER
    VP-CHIEF MARKETING OFFICER
    CHRYSLER
    AD BUDGET:
    $1.74 BILLION
    AGENCIES INCLUDE:
  • Omnicom's BBDO, Detroit and New York; Cutwater, San Francisco; PHD, New York; Organic, Detroit
  • GlobalHue, Southfield, Mich.
  • POWER PLAY:
    Deborah Wahl Meyer, 45, has met her biggest challenge of the year with an innovative launch of the newest Dodge Ram full-size pickup, Chrysler's best-selling model and its biggest blitz of 2008. The integration of TV and online -- with an online challenge that mimics a reality show and a presence on NBC's new "America's Toughest Jobs" reality show and Fox's "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles" -- shows she and her team get the mind-set of the truck's target. She also oversaw the launch of the Dodge Journey crossover, with biggest digital component ever for a Chrysler model -- 29% of total spend. The company's first two-mode hybrid models, the Dodge Durango and Chrysler Aspen SUV, may help green up its image. Ms. Meyer orchestrated a broader deal with Six Flags theme parks that adds even more sites in 2009 to bring Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge directly to consumers.
    DOWNSIDE:
    Like Detroit's other two carmakers, Chrysler has slashed vehicle production and staff as it tries to right the business. Although the privately held automaker has more than $11 billion in cash and marketable securities, industry pundits don't expect 2009 to be any better than '08, and Chrysler's next new-model flurry won't be until 2010.
    13 JOHN
    MENDEL
    SENIOR VP-AUTOMOBILE OPERATIONS, HONDA AND ACURA
    AMERICAN HONDA MOTOR CO.
    AD BUDGET:
    $1.33 BILLION
    AGENCIES INCLUDE:
  • RPA, Santa Monica, Calif.
  • La Agencia de Orci & Asociados, Los Angeles
  • Muse, Los Angeles
  • POWER PLAY:
    John Mendel oversees the only major car company in the U.S. that's posted a sales increase this year. Honda's massive launch of its redone Accord, which started last fall and went into the summer, tried new tactics including an icon to get more information about the car that showed up when TiVo owners fast-forwarded through ads. Mr. Mendel convinced longtime Honda agency RPA to form a separate, dedicated team for Acura, which has linked up with W Hotels to highlight its MDX SUV. The automaker launched the redone Honda Fit small car via a deal with the CW for 10-second, co-branded spots tied to five of the network's shows and aimed at driving traffic to a dedicated website with games. Honda won green points for the launch of the Honda FCX Clarity zero-emission, hydrogen-fuel-cell sedan, which runs on hydrogen and electricity.
    DOWNSIDE:
    General Motors Corp.'s Chevrolet Malibu is making key assaults on Honda's bread-and-butter car, the Accord, which is still enjoying higher sales this year. The company needs to clearly differentiate Acura to break into the top tier of luxury auto brands. Honda reported lower global operating profits earlier this year due in part to higher U.S. incentives and a weak dollar.
    14 BILL
    MORGAN
    SENIOR VP-CORPORATE MARKETING
    SPRINT NEXTEL CORP.
    AD BUDGET:
    $1.9 BILLION
    AGENCIES INCLUDE:
  • Omnicom's Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco
  • WPP's MindShare, New York
  • POWER PLAY:
    Bill Morgan, 51, who has been at Sprint Nextel since 2006, moved to the top marketing post this year and began mopping up after a season of organizational chaos. Simply Everything, its all-inclusive wireless pricing plan unveiled in March, was a hit with tech-savvy consumers who wanted $99-a-month unlimited talking, web surfing, e-mail and texting. Sprint managed to lure non-corporate BlackBerry users with customized applications such as Facebook, and scored points with its well-received Samsung Instinct phone. The long-awaited merger of Sprint's mobile-wireless XOHM division with Craig McCaw's Clearwire Corp. this year will put WiMax technology -- wireless services at broadband speeds -- to the test.
    DOWNSIDE:
    Corporate morale took a nosedive after the awkward Sprint-Nextel merger three years ago, and climbing out has been messy. Product development stagnated, customer service deteriorated and Sprint consumer users exited in droves. The company's stock price has languished. Dan Hesse, appointed CEO last December, almost immediately starred in TV spots introducing a Sprint wireless revolution he promised would be "pretty awesome." The risky move was meant to signal the beginning of a new era, but Sprint has miles to go before it regains ground it lost with customers.
    15 LAURENT
    ATTAL
    PRESIDENT-CEO
    L'ORÉAL USA
    AD BUDGET:
    $1.63 BILLION
    AGENCIES INCLUDE:
  • Havas' Euro RSCG, New York
  • Interpublic's Gotham, McCann, R/GA, Initiative, Universal McCann, New York
  • Publicis' Publicis, Optimedia International U.S., ZenithOptimedia, New York
  • POWER PLAY:
    L'Oréal continues to rank as the world's top beauty marketer. And it continues to outgrow global rival Procter & Gamble Co., which has made beauty a top priority. In the U.S., mass skin care, long the weakest link for L'Oréal, has been gaining. Laurent Attal, 50, in year three at the helm of the U.S. business, has made his mark, shifting longtime L'Oréal Paris chief Carol Hamilton to head L'Oréal's Luxury Products division, longtime Maybelline/Garnier boss Karen Fondu to head L'Oréal Paris and L'Oréal USA Senior VP-Human Resources David Greenberg to head Maybelline/Garnier.
    DOWNSIDE:
    Beating P&G alone isn't good enough, as L'Oréal's organic top-line growth of 5.5% globally and 3% in the U.S. disappointed investors. Others, such as Estée Lauder Cos. and Avon Products, are doing better. A slowing economy has taken a toll on L'Oréal's U.S. business in particular, but so has competition. Even as L'Oréal, fueled by the 2007 launch of Garnier skin care, has made inroads there, P&G has gotten off the mat in two categories where L'Oréal had been beating it in handily for years -- hair color and cosmetics -- leading to recent L'Oréal share losses in both categories. Category watchers say L'Oréal has to prove it can innovate more often in mass, not just imitate.
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