Kara Lazarus

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People tell Kara Lazarus she looks like actress Julia Roberts, especially when she flashes a smile. No doubt there are worse people to resemble.

"She's beautiful, so I can't complain," says the media maven.

If Ms. Lazarus, the newly promoted senior VP-director of national broadcast at Bates USA, New York, looks like Ms. Roberts, she does business like "Erin Brockovich"-tough when she needs to be but calm and understanding at other points.

It's hard to believe Ms. Lazarus has a forceful side, based on the low volume of her voice, but she says it's almost required: TV buying is not always a lovefest.

"There are certain people and certain things that bring it out," she observes. "I think [negotiating] is about being tough but not in a nasty way."

Ms. Lazarus was promoted to her new post at Cordiant Communications Group's Bates from VP-associate director of national broadcast when Rosemarie Ombres returned to Los Angeles. Ms. Lazarus oversees $300 million in TV spending annually for a list of clients headlined by Wendy's International and Hyundai Motor America. Ms. Lazarus is a force in both the upfront buying period each spring and the high-stakes game of purchasing time on top-flight sports events.

She's achieved it all at the age of 30, younger than most of her counterparts in similar posts. But strong client relations and experience in day-to-day account matters have propelled her rise.

Ms. Lazarus also is getting her feet wet in the growing world of cross-media deals, helping Wendy's ink such pacts recently with AOL Time Warner and Walt Disney Co.'s ESPN.

It's a fortuitous time to be a top media buyer. With the ad market slumping, buyers are getting the chance to please clients after several years of alarming price increases in the upfront.

"I think this was the first year daggers didn't come across the table," Ms. Lazarus says of a presentation to Hyundai about the upfront.

Ms. Lazarus married into a prominent family in the media community when she wedded Peter Lazarus, who works in Olympic sales at General Electric Co.'s NBC. One brother-in-law, Craig, is a producer at ESPN. Another, Mark, is president of AOL Time Warner's Turner Sports, while father-in-law John was the longtime senior VP-executive director of national broadcast at TN Media, now part of Interpublic Group of Cos.

Ms. Lazarus joins Mark and John as Media Mavens, meaning there are now as many members of the extended Lazarus family with that title as there are DiMaggios who played in the major leagues. "The DiMaggios have nothing on the Lazarus clan," asserts Mark.

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