Power Players

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1 James R. Stengel

Global marketing officer

Procter & Gamble Co.

Ad budget: $2.67 billion

Agency roster: Grey Global Group's Grey Worldwide, New York and Toronto; Ericsson Fina, Wing Latino Group and MediaCom, all New York. Publicis Groupe's Publicis Worldwide, Kaplan Thaler Group, Conill and MediaVest, all New York; Leo Burnett USA, Chicago and Toronto; Saatchi & Saatchi, New York and Los Angeles; Burrell Communications Group and Starcom, both Chicago; Bromley Communications, San Antonio. Carol H. Williams Advertising, Oakland, Calif.

Power play: For the first time in three years, P&G registered organic sales growth globally, with sales for the year ended June 30 up 7.8% to $43.4 billion, without help from acquisitions. Mr. Stengel, 48, organized P&G's first trip to the Cannes ad festival, and tweaked company policies on ad decisionmaking and copy testing. He's also overseeing P&G's first purchasing executive to look at squeezing waste and improving agency creative output.

Downside: As P&G brands make ambitious claims, the marketer has become a target of a growing number of lawsuits and challenges from competitors before the National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus. Courts have found misleading portions of ads for Tampax, Pampers and Prilosec OTC . P&G sales were only up 3.1% in the U.S. last year, as a declining dollar helped boost sales overseas.

2 John Middlebrook

VP-general manager, vehicle brand marketing and corporate advertising

General Motors Corp.

Ad budget: $3.65 billion

Agency roster: Interpublic Group of Cos.' Campbell-Ewald and General Motors Mediaworks, both Warren, Mich.; Lowe & Partners Worldwide, New York; McCann-Erickson Worldwide, Troy, Mich.; Mullen, Wenham, Mass. Omnicom Group's Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco. Publicis Groupe's Chemistri, Troy; General Motors Planworks, Detroit. Modernista, Boston.

Power play: Mr. Middlebrook, 62, continued corporate, cross-brand campaigns including "Sleep on It" 24-hour test drives. GM maintained incentive advertising in an attempt to stop share erosion, and added a Hispanic corporate campaign. To advertise those programs, GM's corporate spending in measured media more than doubled in the first half of 2003 vs. 2002 to $161 million, according to TNS Media Intelligence/CMR. Cadillac brand made a Super Bowl ad splash and has been making sales inroads with new models. GM's market share slipped by less than 1 percentage point through September 2003 to 28%, and the strategy may have stemmed bigger share losses.

Downside: The world's largest carmaker is risking damage to brands by selling the deal with a seemingly never-ending plethora of incentive ads.

3 J. Patrick Kelly

VP-president, U.S. pharmaceuticals

Pfizer

Ad budget: $2.57 billion

Agency roster: Aegis Group's Carat, New York. Havas' Euro RSCG Life Becker and Euro RSCG Life LM&P, both New York. Interpublic's Avrett, Free & Ginsberg, New York. Omnicom's BBDO Health, TBWA Health, Merkley Newman Harty Partners and Cline Davis & Mann, all New York. Publicis Groupe's Publicis Worldwide, Kaplan Thaler Group and Saatchi & Saatchi Healthcare, all New York. WPP Group's Health@ JWT and Berlin Cameron/Red Cell, both New York.

Power play: The "little blue pill" no longer stands alone. Viagra, with $1 billion-plus in 2002 sales, for the first time is facing some serious competition in the field of erectile dysfunction. Two competitors, Levitra and Cialis, are on the way, backed by pharmaceutical heavyweights. Pfizer provides Viagra with more than $80 million in ad support and has owned the category for five years. While Pfizer and Mr. Kelly, 46, have drafted Major League Baseball star Rafael Palmeiro to tout Viagra, Levitra has enlisted National Football League legend "Iron Mike" Ditka. Separately in a big agency shift, Pfizer this year moved $300 million in billings from Bates Worldwide to J. Walter Thompson Co. JWT created a dedicated healthcare unit called Health@JWT to handle the work, which encompasses more than a dozen over-the-counter brands.

Downside: Pfizer, the world's largest pharmaceutical company, saw its stock slide after GlaxoSmithKline and Bayer announced in June they would begin marketing Levitra in the U.S.-perhaps an indication of the struggle to come. An ED free-for-all is expected in 2004, with ad spending for male impotence remedies possibly reaching $200 million.

4 Jim O'Connor

Group VP-marketing, sales and service, North America (Ford, Lincoln and Mercury brands)

Ford Motor Co.

Ad budget: $2.25 billion

Agency roster: WPP's J. Walter Thompson USA, Detroit; Y&R Advertising and Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide, both Dearborn, Mich.; Ford Motor Media, Detroit.

Power play: Mr. O'Connor, 60, last month launched a $100 million-plus blitz for the redone Ford F-150 pickup, crucial to the automaker's return to profitability. Ford wants to retain its full-size pickup leadership, and will also launch several key new nameplates in the coming months, including the Freestar minivan and Ford 500 sedan. Ford celebrated its centennial in 2003. The company must convince consumers its quality woes of just a few years ago are in the past. Mercury is readying four new nameplates in the next two calendar years, starting with the launch of the Monterey minivan (sibling to Ford Freestar) early in 2004.

Downside: Lincoln and Mercury need new models, and more differentiated vehicles, to reflect their positioning in a crowded marketplace.

5 J. Andrea Alstrup

VP-advertising

Johnson & Johnson

Ad budget: $1.80 billion

Agency roster: Interpublic's Lowe & Partners Worldwide, McCann-Erickson Worldwide, Regan Campbell Ward, Alchemy and Universal McCann, all New York; Torre Lazur McCann Healthcare Worldwide, Parsippany, N.J.; Tierney Communications, Philadelphia; Casanova Pendrill Publicidad, Irvine, Calif. Omnicom's DDB Worldwide, New York and Chicago; and Anderson DDB, KPR, Carlson & Partners and OMD Worldwide, all New York. Publicis Groupe's Saatchi & Saatchi, New York. WPP's OgilvyOne Worldwide, New York. Harrington Group, Morristown, N.J.

Power play: Here's a $100 million headache for Saatchi & Saatchi: J&J's McNeil Consumer & Specialty Pharmaceuticals put its Tylenol account up for review last month. Saatchi is the only agency of record the analgesic has known, but the category leader's sales are declining and it's feeling pressure from Rx rivals using DTC ads. Interpublic, whose agencies handle a variety of J&J brands, will be pursuing Ms. Alstrup, 57, to add Tylenol. Designated to lead Interpublic's charge are New York shops Deutsch and Foote, Cone & Belding Worldwide; Martin Agency, Richmond, Va.; and Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos, Boston. Omnicom, also on J&J's roster, is eyeing the Tylenol account, too.

Downside: If the Tylenol situation isn't enough to give marketing executives a pain in the neck, the Pepcid challenge could give them heartburn. J&J and Merck are trying to protect Pepcid AC and Mylanta from a new challenge as P&G sends Prilosec over-the-counter (Pepcid made the OTC jump in 1995). P&G was forging ahead with plans to introduce Prilosec last month despite a suit from the Pepcid marketers charging false advertising. They just received FDA approval for a new, maximum strength Pepcid.

6 Janine Bousquette

Exec VP-chief marketing and customer officer

Sears, Roebuck & Co.

Ad budget: $1.66 billion

Agency roster: Publicis Groupe's Burrell Communications Group, Chicago. WPP's Y&R Advertising and Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide, both Chicago; Bravo Group and MindShare Worldwide, both New York; Kang & Lee, Los Angeles and New York; Wunderman, New York.

Power play: CEO Alan Lacey recruited Ms. Bousquette, 42, last year to oversee advertising, marketing and customer relationship management. Since her arrival, Sears has reallocated its marketing spend to rely less on sales and promotional events, and refocused advertising with a new lifestyle-theme campaign.

Downside: With the hardware chains nibbling at its keystone appliance business, Sears is still trying to define its identity. So far, Sears' soft-goods business is not catching fire.

7 Brad Simmons

VP-media director, North America

Unilever

Ad budget: $1.64 billion

Agency roster: Grey Global Group's Grey Worldwide, N.Y. Interpublic's McCann-Erickson Worldwide and Lowe & Partners Worldwide, both N.Y. Omnicom's BBDO Worldwide, N.Y.; DDB Worldwide, N.Y. and Chi. WPP's J. Walter Thompson USA, Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide and MindShare Worldwide, all N.Y. Publicis Groupe-backed Bartle Bogle Hegarty, N.Y.

Power play: Changes that Mr. Simmons, 48, helped implement-including media consolidation, fee-plus-incentives agency compensation and planning that puts media planning at the forefront-have succeeded in the goal of making Unilever less TV-dependent. Also, he leads the Association of National Advertisers' Family Friendly Programming Forum, which has gotten a growing number of family-friendly scripts on the air.

Downside: Unilever's sales in both home and personal care and Unilever Bestfoods in North America have disappointed investors in 2003. North American sales fell 9% to $5.4 billion in constant dollars in the first half. Results were hurt in part by divestitures but mainly by disappointing performance of Slim-Fast, Unilever's most heavily advertised U.S. brand in recent years, and laundry detergents, where Unilever emphasized restoring profit margins over sales growth.

8 Thomas Elliott

Exec VP-auto operations

American Honda Motor Co.

Ad budget: $1.19 billion

Agency roster: Rubin Postaer & Associates, Santa Monica, Calif.

Power play: The Honda brand gained share with 2003 models, and it's thinking young with the Element. Acura is showing sales gains. Mr. Elliott will try to maintain the Honda brand's momentum despite virtually no all-new models. Meanwhile, Acura's redone TL, its best-seller, is arriving.

Downside: Maintaining momentum with few new 2004 models. Still not a player in pickups.

Agency roster: Omnicom's DDB, Chi.; OMD, N.Y.; Heye & Partner, Germany. Omnicom-backed del Rivero Messianu DDB, Miami. Publicis Groupe's Leo Burnett USA, Burrell and Starcom, all Chi.

9 Larry Light

Exec VP-global chief marketing officer

McDonald's Corp.

Ad budget: $1.34 billion

Power play: Mr. Light, 61, may well be the Andrew Weil of marketing, having convinced McDonald's senior management to abandon its American-led, heart-tugging advertising personality and embrace his unorthodox idea of creating a single global brand message. Whether or not the solidarity behind tailoring his "I'm lovin' it" theme country by country for a two-year holistic marketing calendar is real remains to be seen. But getting corporate management to rally behind his "Forever young" battle cry was a huge feat, to say the least.

Downside: Skeptics question whether consumers and franchisees will lose that lovin' feeling once the initial infatuation is over, especially if the chain's recent sales surge levels off.

10 David Pernock

Senior VP-U.S. pharmaceuticals

GlaxoSmithKline

Ad budget: $1.55 billion

Agency roster: Grey Global Group's Grey Healthcare Group and MediaCom, both N.Y. Havas' Euro RSCG MVBMS Partners, Arnold McGrath and MPG, all N.Y. Interpublic's FCB HealthCare, N.Y. Publicis Groupe's Publicis Mid-America, Dallas. WPP's CommonHealth, Parsippany, N.J.

Power play: The battle for erectile dysfunction supremacy began Aug. 19, when the FDA approved Levitra, co-marketed by GlaxoSmithKline and Bayer. This means Levitra could take advantage of its three-year, $18 million sponsorship deal with the NFL when the 2003 season started in September. For ad inspiration, CommonHealth's Quantum Group can turn to the claim that Levitra works faster than Viagra. This will be a major marketing battle for Mr. Pernock. Not that it's all impotence marketing. This year's Effie awards for ad effectiveness added a prescription product category, and the first winner was an asthma educational campaign backing Advair.

Downside: Viagra marketer Pfizer quickly dispatched lawyers to throw litigious hurdles in the way of its first major rival. It won't be easy for GlaxoSmithKline to attack a brand that has pretty much built a segment from scratch and owned the field for all of Viagra's first five years.

11 Charlotte McKines

Executive director-marketing communications

Merck & Co.

Ad budget: $1.16 billion

Agency roster: Interpublic's Foote, Cone & Belding Worldwide, FCB HealthCare, Regan Campbell Ward and Initiative Media North America, all N.Y. Omnicom's DDB Worldwide and KPR, both N.Y.; Corbett HealthConnect, Chi. WPP's Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide, N.Y. Hal Lewis Group, Philadelphia. Prime Access, N.Y.

Power play: Merck once had the distinction of using an NFL personality-Atlanta Falcons coach Dan Reeves-in ads for cholesterol drug Zocor, but that cachet may be diminished with the league lifting its ban on healthcare sponsorship and advertising. Now, Merck is believed to be pursuing a larger sponsorship deal with the NFL. Merck and co-marketer Johnson & Johnson face a new challenge to heartburn drug Pepcid with P&G launching an OTC version of Prilosec. Another looming challenge for 44-year-old Ms. McKines: Eli Lilly & Co.'s Forteo, the first in a new class of osteoporosis drugs, which will take on Merck's older, market-leading Fosamax.

Downside: Forteo is another example of how new drugs can pose threats to market leaders and how marketers need to be constantly preparing new Rx brands, especially as older prescription drugs lose their patents (Forteo will ease the pain of Lilly losing its patent on Prozac). The patent for Merck's Singulair asthma drug, which got more than $44 million in support last year, expired in '03.

12 Gary Rodkin

Chairman-CEO, PepsiCo Beverages & Foods North America

PepsiCo

Ad budget: $1.11 billion

Agency roster: Omnicom's BBDO Worldwide and OMD, both N.Y.; WPP's J. Walter Thompson USA, N.Y.; Element 79 Partners, Chi.

Power play: PepsiCo made good on its commitment to be the largest ad spender in the lemon-lime segment when it boosted spending (650% in the first quarter) to drive the national rollout of Sierra Mist. But when Mr. Rodkin's team led by Dawn Hudson, president of Pepsi-Cola North America, convinced distributors to trade out Cadbury Schweppes' 7UP for Sierra Mist, they not only made it a national brand in 2003, with 92% distribution, but also the No. 2 lemon-lime in all new markets.

Downside: The jury is still out on whether Mr. Rodkin, 51, has bitten off more than he can chew since PepsiCo reorganized its brand groups and in February put him in charge of the Pepsi-Cola, Gatorade (and Quaker) and Tropicana brands.

13 James Lentz

VP-marketing, Toyota Division

Toyota Motor Sales USA

Ad budget: $1.55 billion

Agency roster: Publicis' Saatchi & Saatchi Los Angeles, Torrance, Calif.; Zenith Optimedia Group. Attik, San Francisco.

Power play: Like Honda, Toyota is thinking young with its introduction of the Scion sub-brand in California. Mr. Lentz, 47, has effectively used guerrilla, word-of-mouth tactics on the coast, and these will also be used for Scion's national rollout.

Downside: Showroom customer service, based on car buyers' experience while at the dealer, still lags product quality.

14 Patrick D. Conboy

VP-director of strategic marketing

J.C. Penney Co.

Ad budget: $1.11 billion

Agency roster: Omnicom's DDB Worldwide, Chi. and Dal.; OMD Worldwide, Dal. InterTrend Communications, Torrance, Calif. Cartel Group, San Antonio. Amistad Media Group, Austin, Texas.

Power play: Under Mr. Conboy, 39, Penney's has increased its spending to support the "It's all inside" campaign, including more focus on TV and pre-print advertising.

Downside: Penney's is relying heavily on sales events to drive traffic.

15 Karen Crawford

Director of media advertising and relationship marketing

Nestle USA

Ad budget: $1.07 billion

Agency roster: Havas' Euro RSCG MVBMS Partners, N.Y. Interpublic's McCann-Erickson Worldwide, L.A. and N.Y.; Avrett, Free & Ginsberg, N.Y.; Dailey & Associates, L.A.; Casanova Pendrill Publicidad, Irvine, Calif. Maxxcom's Colle & McVoy, Minneapolis. Omnicom's Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, S.F. Publicis Groupe's Publicis Worldwide, Dal.; Fallon Worldwide, Minneapolis; Publicis Sanchez & Levitan, Irvine and Miami. WPP's J. Walter Thompson USA, Chi.; Berlin Cameron/Red Cell, N.Y. CheckMart, St. Louis.

Power play: Nestle is investing heavily in its iconic Nestle Toll House brand-putting major muscle behind the recent launch of Ultimates upscale refrigerated cookie dough, and launching the Toll House brand into the competitive candy bar segment, where the marketer has made few new-product moves in recent years.

Downside: Nestle and Ms. Crawford, 42, face a challenge building up the company's pet food franchise following precipitous media declines while it absorbed Ralston Purina Co. and created the Nestle Purina PetCare Co. division. Also, Nestle is facing the combination of its ice cream brands with recently acquired Dreyer's Grand Ice Cream. Despite the acquisition being in the works since 2001, Nestle still has not determined where the overall ice cream assignment will go-to JWT (which handles Haagen-Dazs, Nestle brands) or Goodby (which has handled Dreyer's).

16 Carol Hamilton

President-general manager, L'Oreal Paris Division

L'Oreal

Ad budget: $1.12 billion

Agency roster: Interpublic's McCann-Erickson Worldwide and Universal McCann, both New York. La Micela, New York.

Power play: Growth at the cosmetics marketer helmed by Ms. Hamilton, 51, has been attributed to the recent large-scale launches of new hair color brand Couleur Experte, and-in the growing skincare arena-Wrinkle De-Crease. Such innovation, backed in both cases by major media expenditures, has helped drive sales by nearly double digits for the company's mass-market products.

Downside: Despite a surge in market share in skincare over the past year, L'Oreal has faced double-digit declines for its Plenitude brand and disappointing sales for the Pure Zone brand launched last year. Both have been restaged with renewed marketing efforts, but competition from Procter & Gamble and Unilever is strong.

17 Steven Wilhite

VP-marketing, Nissan and Infiniti

Nissan North America

Ad budget: $966.7 million

Agency roster: Omnicom's TBWA/Chiat/Day, Playa del Rey, Calif.

Power play: Nissan is executing back-to-back ad campaigns to introduce major new or redone models. Mr. Wilhite, 51, launched the new-model blitz last December with the all-new Nissan Murano sport wagon and into 2003 with the updated Maxima sedan, redone Quest minivan and the Z convertible. Due in the fourth quarter are the all-new Pathfinder Armada SUV and Titan, Nissan's first full-size pickup.

Downside: Sustaining ad support for the entire lineup with a wave of new products.

18 Mark Addicks

VP-Gcom

General Mills

Ad budget: $954.1 million

Agency roster: Interpublic's Campbell Mithun, Minneapolis; McCann-Erickson Worldwide, Guaynabo, Puerto Rico; Casanova Pendrill Publicidad, Irvine, Calif. Publicis Groupe's Saatchi & Saatchi and Zenith Media Services, both N.Y.; Burrell Communications Group, Chi. Schafer Condon & Carter, Chi. Sterling-Rice Group, Boulder, Colo.

Power play: Mr. Addicks, 48, has been credited with helping General Mills revive after the difficult digestion of the Pillsbury acquisition by driving synergies across its businesses and gaining far greater media play at minimal cost for the Pillsbury brands. He's expected to similarly drive ad efficiencies to back the launch of an upcoming portfolio of 70 new products.

Downside: The decision to hold off on marketing its Progresso soups until the season hits while Campbell Soup Co. began its soup campaign earlier may prove to be a mistake, one Wall Street analyst believes.

19 Mich Mathews

VP-marketing

Microsoft Corp.

Ad budget: $909.1 million

Agency roster: Interpublic's McCann-Erickson Worldwide, N.Y. and S.F.; Universal McCann, N.Y. Interpublic-backed GlobalHue, Southfield, Mich. Lopez Negrete Communications, Houston.

Power play: Microsoft late last year broke a $400 million global corporate branding campaign touting how it empowers people. Then last April, Ms. Mathews, 36, oversaw the launch of a $200 million global push to promote three new Windows Server 2003 products. This summer, the software giant moved its ethnic ad accounts as it planned a major branding effort aimed at women and ethnic small-business owners.

Downside: CEO Steve Ballmer acknowledged that increased competition from IBM Corp. and Hewlett-Packard Co. in server software would require Microsoft to spend more on marketing. Last month, IBM kicked off a major push for its Linux operating system, and this could demand a marketing response from Microsoft.

20 John Costello

Exec VP-marketing and merchandising, and chief marketing officer

Home Depot

Ad budget: $885.2 million

Agency roster: Interpublic's Initiative Media North America, L.A. Omnicom's DDB Worldwide, Chi. Richards Group, Dallas.

Power play: Home Depot has increased spending nearly 32% in the last year to fend off upstart Lowe's for its share of the home improvement boom. Under Mr. Costello, 56, the chain added direct-response TV to its media mix in 2003 and expanded sponsorship of popular home improvement shows on The Learning Channel.

Downside: Lowe's aggressive expansion is increasingly encroaching on Home Depot's turf. An ongoing project to upgrade store interiors and service is still under way, so it's too early to say if it will succeed in fighting off the competition.

21 G. Michael Sievert

Exec VP-chief marketing officer

AT&T Wireless

Ad budget: $872.9 million

Agency roster: Omnicom's Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, S.F. WPP's Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide, Bravo and Mediaedge:cia Worldwide, all N.Y. Avenue A, Seattle.

Power play: Question: What's an mLife? Answer: It's history. Mr. Sievert, 34, made a gutsy move in acknowledging his boss' campaign, which asked "What's an mLife?" was a flop, and hired a new agency to handle corporate branding. Goodby swiped the account from Ogilvy without a review. Ogilvy kept the bulk of AT&T Wireless' ad spending. Mr. Sievert worked closely with Goodby at E-Trade.

Downside: Starting Nov. 24, wireless portability will let consumers keep their wireless phone numbers when they change carriers, and this poses a big challenge for all the cellular rivals. But AT&T Wireless, thanks to "mLife," enters this brave new world without the ad-nurtured clearer images of competitors such as Verizon Wireless with its message of service quality.

22 Abby Kohnstamm

Senior VP-marketing

IBM Corp.

Ad budget: $832.3 million

Agency roster: Interpublic's R/GA, N.Y. Interpublic-backed Modem Media, Norwalk, Conn. WPP's Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide, Ogilvy & Mather Interactive, OgilvyOne Worldwide, Wunderman and MindShare, all N.Y. George P. Johnson Co., Auburn Hills, Mich.

Power play: IBM's new campaign for Linux (see Mich Mathews/Microsoft profile on Page S-8) is a facet of 50-year-old Ms. Kohnstamm's latest coup, the story of on-demand services. Late last year, Ogilvy debuted TV spots supporting "e-Business on Demand." The idea is that successful businesses today need to provide goods and services "on demand."

Downside: There are signs the tech sector is reviving. If there's a downside to that, it's that IT rivals will start pouring more thought and money into marketing (Microsoft's Steve Ballmer has already indicated as much). But IBM shows a willingness to spend: This summer it signed a reported $18 million "technology partnership" with the NFL, becoming the league's official IT sponsor.

23 David Dess

VP-marketing, Sprint PCS

Sprint Corp.

Ad budget: $863.0 million

Agency roster: Havas' Brann Worldwide, Chi. Interpublic's DraftWorldwide, Chi.; Foote, Cone & Belding Worldwide, Caparra, Puerto Rico. Interpublic-backed Modem Media, S.F. Publicis Groupe's Publicis & Hal Riney, S.F. BVK/Meka, Miami. Organic, S.F.

Power play: Riney's "Sprint guy" has provided solid commercial entertainment in a competitive field, but Mr. Dess may have to take the gloves off of this man in black since cellular providers' advertising is expected to get more aggressive to grapple with wireless portability. Sprint PCS may be grabbing more clout in the Sprint Corp. universe as PCS President Len J. Lauer last month added the titles of president-chief operating officer at the parent. His new responsibilities include overseeing Sprint Corp.'s marketing. Mr. Lauer took the PCS helm in 2002 with the mission of improving lackluster results. PCS says its PCS Vision advanced data services has more than 2 million customers. It's also planning to enter the new, much-touted push-to-talk segment.

Downside: Sprint PCS has had a dismal reputation for customer satisfaction-not a good spot to be in at a time when cellular users are going to feel an even greater itch to switch. Also, Sprint is rumored to be an acquisition target.

24 Joe Eberhardt

Exec VP-sales and marketing, Chrysler Group

DaimlerChrysler

Ad budget: $859.0 million

Agency roster: Omnicom's BBDO Worldwide, Troy, Mich.; Arnell Group and PHD, both N.Y.

Power play: Chrysler says the $100 million "Summer Sale" advertising effort for the Dodge, Chrysler and Jeep nameplates was a success. It's too early to assess the leadership potential of Mr. Eberhardt, 39, who arrived in the job June 1 from DaimlerChrysler U.K. He succeeded Jim Schroer, a 2002 Power Player; Mr. Schroer resigned in May.

Downside: Chrysler's Pacifica sport wagon, the brand's first model to head upmarket to the premium level, had a shaky launch despite a link to the $14 million Celine Dion deal inked by Mr. Schroer. There's uncertainty on the agency front. "Everything is under review in the current situation," Mr. Eberhardt has said.

25 Betsy Holden

President-CEO, Kraft Foods North America

Altria Group

Ad budget: $827.0 million

Agency roster: Havas' Euro RSCG Tatham Partners, Chi. Interpublic's Foote, Cone & Belding Worldwide, Chi. and N.Y. Publicis Groupe's Leo Burnett USA and MediaVest, both Chi.; Kaplan Thaler Group, N.Y. WPP's J. Walter Thompson USA, Chi.; Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide, N.Y. and L.A.; and Y&R Advertising, UniWorld Group and Bravo Group, all N.Y. Cultura, Dallas. Acme Idea Co., Norwalk, Conn.

Power play: Ms. Holden pledged during Kraft's recent second-quarter earnings report to address "consumption softness" with a $200 million increase in marketing spending for September-December. Of that increase, $60 million will go to advertising. Ms. Holden, 47, has initiated a pro-active approach to potential blame in the obesity debate with new products and marketing initiatives addressing the problem. These include a more nutritious Lunchables dubbed Fun Fuels that has received extensive media.

Downside: Wall Street is bearing down on the food behemoth due to a lower-than-expected earnings outlook for the year. Ms. Holden attributes the outlook to the soft economy and price gaps in its cheese, coffee, cold cuts and biscuits businesses as they compete with private label, problems she hopes to address with the marketing influx.

26 Michael Linton

Exec VP-consumer and brand marketing, and chief marketing officer

Best Buy Co.

Ad budget: $818.7 million

Agency roster: in-house. Publicis Groupe's Starcom MediaVest Group, Chi. La Comunidad, Miami Beach, Fla. Avenue A, Seattle. Digitas, Chi.

Power play: Mr. Linton, 46, had been in charge of the Best Buy brand until last year, when he added responsibility for all of the company's branding efforts, CRM and in-house shop Best Buy Advertising.

Downside: Best Buy still faces stiff competition from all sides, particularly rival Circuit City Stores. If predictions of an upcoming consumer spending slowdown come true, it could be much harder to drive customers to high-price electronics.

27 Paul Walsh

CEO

Diageo

Ad budget: $797.8 million

Agency roster: Dentsu's Colby & Partners, L.A. Grey Global Group's Grey Worldwide and MediaCom, both N.Y. Omnicom's BBDO Worldwide and Arnell Group, both N.Y.; Tracy Locke Partnership, Wilton, Conn. WPP's J. Walter Thompson USA, N.Y. Publicis Groupe-backed Bartle Bogle Hegarty, N.Y. Butler, Shine, Stern & Partners, Sausalito, Calif. Kirshenbaum Bond Creative Network, N.Y. Manhattan Marketing Ensemble, N.Y. TAG Worldwide, N.Y. Aquent, N.Y.

Power play: After focusing the Diageo portfolio with premium liquor acquisitions like Seagram's and dumping food businesses like Burger King, Diageo has further galvanized its market leverage by consolidating its distributor network to as few as one per state. That has given the marketer even more power in gaining prime shelf space, better promotions and market feedback via distributors dedicated to Diageo brands. It's a strategy that helped Anheuser-Busch create its dominant position in beer.

Downside: Having marked his third anniversary as CEO last month, Mr. Walsh, 48, has the dubious task of proving he can grow brands organically in a marketplace that's driven by discretionary spending and pop culture trends.

28 Cathy Constable

VP-marketing communications and brand management

AT&T Corp.

Ad budget: $815.1 million

Agency roster: WPP's Y&R Advertising, Wunderman, UniWorld Group, Bravo Group, Kang & Lee and Mediaedge:cia Worldwide, all N.Y. Digitas, Boston.

Power play: "Talk is good," according to AT&T Corp., but much of the talk about its agency lineup has been bad for incumbent Y&R. Ms. Constable, 44, spearheaded Y&R's "Talk is good" campaign that supports AT&T's consumer business. But in March, Advertising Age reported the telecom had approached several other agencies to reinvent its consumer brand and corporate image. There was no formal review, and Ms. Constable said AT&T was happy with Y&R. However, it was AT&T Consumer Services President-CEO John Polumbo-rather than Ms. Constable-who was said to be behind the overtures to other shops.

Downside: AT&T is the largest player in a struggling category. As AT&T moves more aggressively to bundle local and long-distance service, more consumers are dropping land-line service altogether in favor of wireless. Uncertainty marks AT&T's very existence. The company has been moving to pay down debt, and analysts have seen it as a takeover target, possibly by a Baby Bell like BellSouth Corp.

29 August A. Busch IV

President

Anheuser-Busch Inc.

Ad budget: $792.9 million

Agency roster: Omnicom's DDB Worldwide, Chi.; Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, S.F. Omnicom-backed Dieste Harmel & Partners, Dallas; Del Rivero Messianu DDB, Miami. Interpublic's Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos, Boston; Momentum, St. Louis. Brado Cuneo, St. Louis. Fusion Idea Lab, Chi. Ornelas & Associates, Dallas. Waylon Ad, St. Louis.

Power play: Known more for the sheer supremacy of their branding machine than for product innovation, A-B and Mr. Busch, 38, showed that they too can nimbly respond to changing consumer needs when this year the nation's top brewer was first to market a low-carb beer in Michelob Ultra. That set off a race among a bevy of me-too brands.

Downside: A-B is set to raise prices in the fourth quarter, and despite SABMiller's relatively minor impact on share leader A-B, the No. 2 brewer's new resolve and the success of its month-old Miller Lite advertising have surprised everyone, including those on Wall Street. Depending on how already-stretched consumers respond, the combination of higher prices and a stronger rival could potentially put the King of Beers in an uncharacteristic defensive mode.

30 Jerri DeVard

Senior VP-brand management and marketing communications

Verizon

Ad budget: $321.3 million

Agency roster: Havas' Euro RSCG Circle Interactive, Boston. Interpublic's DraftWorldwide, N.Y. Publicis Groupe's Burrell Communications Group, Chi. La Agencia de Orci & Asociados, L.A. McGarry Bowen, N.Y. VmZ, N.Y. (a joint venture of DraftWorldwide and Publicis' Zenith that handles media buying for Verizon).

Power play: Bundling is boss in telecommunications, and Ms. DeVard has worked with McGarry Bowen to implement the corporate strategy of offering bundled services such as phone and Internet. Quality is another important ad theme. Ms. De Vard notes that customer loyalty is on the increase.

Downside: Ms. DeVard, who came to Verizon last January from Citigroup, left one struggling industry (financial services) for another (telecom). In a business where growth is measured by access lines, Verizon must grapple with its land-line rivals as well as cellular providers. Ironically, the top cellular rival is Verizon Wireless, which is just 55% owned by Verizon.