Women to Watch

Debbie Richman

By Published on .

it's hard to argue with the notion that Debbie Richman is a crucial person within the ad world. After all, in addition to managing a 100-plus person group, she's tasked with leveraging OMD USA's $4 billion worth of clout, composed of TV investments from the likes of PepsiCo, Visa USA and McDonald's Corp.

But in her time at OMD, Ms. Richman has proved she's more than just about closing the deal. With projects like OMD's upfront summit and a road show on the topic of accountability, both of which pulled together the agency's blue-chip advertisers, she's put herself at the forefront of leadership in the media investment arena.

"Put Debbie in a league of her own in negotiations-top one or two-and then add to that her magic with ideas," says Page Thompson, CEO of OMD North America. "She's invaluable."

Mr. Thompson and the powers at OMD parent Omnicom Group have already recognized that formally, and are open about the fact they're grooming the 43-year-old Ms. Richman for an even larger role. They've enrolled her in Omnicom University, the holding company's training program for senior managers.

Ms. Richman is probably best known for orchestrating the massive integration deal that got eight OMD clients written into the Sci Fi Channel 2004 miniseries "Five Days to Midnight."

Since then, she's been worrying about what marketers worry about: return on investment, accountability, the state of the marketplace.

"ROI means something different to every client," says Ms. Richman, U.S. director-national television at OMD. "That to me is the biggest challenge.

"You can't come up with just one metric because it doesn't mean the same thing to everyone until you're willing to share sales figures and figure out how you attribute. There are great metrics in place. It's how involved the client wants to get into that. It does involve creating data banks."

One marketing executive says Ms. Richman's intimacy with those client anxieties is what makes her so valuable.

"She understands the important elements in terms of what she does specifically for us-in terms of broadcast but also how all the media impact what we do for movies," says Suzanne Cole, senior VP-media at NBC Universal's Universal Pictures. "She thinks beyond the television landscape, but she's also good at managing the upfront or scatter" TV airtime markets.

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