Kathleen Zapoticky

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Those evian bottled water ads that appear plastered across America's largest cities just might be the result of some of the most efficient media placement in advertising.

Armed with city guidebooks, a rental car and a $2.5 million budget, Kathleen Zapoticky set out to find the hottest spots in America to splash the Evian ad placements. First up: New York and Los Angeles, two of the more expensive cities for out-of-home advertising. Although she had limited funds from client Great Brands of Europe, the assistant media director at Messner Vetere Berger McNamee Schmetterer Euro RSCG, New York, made the Evian brand one of the country's most visible names in bottled water, living up to the "l'original" tag in its ads.

With Messner trying to reposition Evian almost as a fashion accessory and not just a healthy quencher, Ms. Zapoticky went to work, canvassing New York.

"We identified neighborhoods where we felt people lived and worked and went out," she says. "Like in SoHo, we looked for the best locations there. It helped if there were restaurants nearby that carried Evian."

When it was time to focus on the other big city in the 1999 media plan -- Los Angeles, a place she'd never been -- she flew to the West Coast. With guidebook in hand, she drove around the city looking for just the right spots to place such billboards as the one depicting a woman bathing in a tub filled with Evian.

"We avoided general marketing and marketed very narrowly," she says. "We were not looking for the highest traffic location, but locations where [research showed] our target [was]."

Working with Evian media buyer MediaCom, New York, she put ads on outdoor boards and delivery trucks in targeted areas. Evian has no specific distributors, so she placed ads on the delivery trucks bottled water.

"Who would know? We went for a small truck, not a tractor trailer. That would've looked fake," says the 38-year-old planner who has worked in media her entire career except for a three-year stint on the account side at BBDO Worldwide, New York. "Tractor trucks don't deliver bottled water to a bodega."Ms. Zapoticky, who earned her MBA from Pace University in New York, says she likes media because it involves strategy and client contact. She was drawn to Messner because it is so analytical.

This year Evian spending on this project increased to about $3.5 million, but the number of cities entered also increased to include Chicago, San Francisco, Miami and Washington. Ms. Zapoticky credits Messner's creatives with making the campaign work.

"One of the reasons why the advertising looks like it is everywhere is because the creative itself is so spectacular," she says. One ad out this year depicts an igloo built from Evian ice cubes. "It's really the combination of media and creative work together that made it happen."

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