Currently VP-global brand director for Southern Comfort, Ms. Allen has been with Brown-Forman Corp. since 1981, when she graduated from Vanderbilt University's business school. A corporate vagabond who's moved seven times for the company, Ms. Allen started out making sales calls at San Francisco liquor stores. She became the company's first female state manager when she landed in Connecticut three years later. Since then, the 44-year-old Louisville, Ky., native has rolled out Gentleman Jack, a high-end specialty and the company's first new whiskey in more than a century, as well as worked on other new products. But Ms. Allen's longest tenure has been on Southern Comfort, a previously flat-selling liqueur that she's helped to three consecutive years of growth. Unit sales approached 1.3 million in 2001, up 1% from 2000 according to Impact's 2002 Distilled Spirits Study. Increased investment has contributed, but so have Ms. Allen's initiatives: higher price (and thus profits), different graphics as well as a new ad agency and strategy. By September, Ms. Allen's SoCo will have expanded its emphasis from print to radio, outdoor and non-network TV-its first U.S. attempt at TV advertising, after the crush of other spirits marketers running on TV. Havas' Arnold Worldwide, St. Louis, won the account in January 2001 from independent ID8, Los Angeles.
"We've been around so long," Ms. Allen says. "People think they know what it's about, and all we've done is turn everything up a notch. We think we're poised to take it up even farther."