There's no question that Wendy Clark is, on the basis of measured-media spending, near the top of any list of the most important women in marketing.
|Wendy Clark, senior exec VP-advertising, AT&T|
Ms. Clark last year was responsible for all global ad efforts, brand development and oversight, and sponsorship activity for "the new AT&T." As senior exec VP-advertising, her hand was behind the morphing of a regional telephone brand into a new version of one of the world's most iconic brands.
AT&T's marketing spending is a whopping $2 billion, but among the company's challenges is trimming that budget to achieve the 20% savings in operating expenses promised Wall Street as a result of the acquisition of BellSouth Corp. AT&T, however, won't cut back until it wrings "every drop of equity" out of the Cingular brand, Ms. Clark says.
Her savvy goes far beyond measured spending and the decision to add Cingular orange to the permanent AT&T logo palette. "She's a level-five executive," says Judy Trabulsi, co-founder and exec VP at GSD&M, Austin, Texas, comparing Ms. Clark with the top-level execs described by Jim Collins in "Built to Last."
Ms. Trabulsi should know. She not only handles media buying for AT&T but hired Ms. Clark as GSD&M's first director of account services, a position Ms. Clark eventually used as a springboard to a job at SBC Communications, handling the Yellow Pages.
"The work she has done over the last 18 months alone would set her apart on any list," Karen Jennings, AT&T's senior exec VP-advertising and corporate communications, said in an e-mail.
Ms. Clark, 36, was born in England and reared by her American mother, who worked as a marketing coordinator for a construction company.
When it comes to marketing the new AT&T, "We're shifting to an online, viral approach," she says. Resources have been moved from TV to projects such as AT&T's Blue Room entertainment website. "It's beginning to generate organic traffic and live its own life without a lot of stimulation on our part," she says.
One medium that AT&T will be approaching gingerly, however, is advertising on its own phones. "The wireless piece is very personal ... something I carry on my body. It's not just the same as throwing a flight of advertising on a cable channel," Ms. Clark says. "We've just got to consider that in our decisions."
Ms. Clark runs a mentor circle and from time to time is asked what her ambition is. "I am living it," she says. Ms. Clark, the mother of two girls, 5 and 3, and an infant son, says she manages by turning off her BlackBerry when she goes home. She also has come to realize that "sleep is overrated."