Women to Watch

Women to Watch: Beth Ann Kaminkow, TracyLocke

First Woman to Lead Shop Succeeds by Putting People First, Blasting Through Bureaucracy

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In its almost 100-year history, TracyLocke has evolved from a traditional ad agency to an "engagement marketing" agency constantly seeking to bring consumers closer to brands. One other notable change for the shop? It appointed its first female CEO, Beth Ann Kaminkow, in February.

BethAnn Kaminkow
BethAnn Kaminkow

Ms. Kaminkow has been a part of parent Omnicom Group since 1994, joining TracyLocke in 2006 from sibling agency Brodeur to become president-chief operating officer. This past winter, she was selected to succeed former CEO Ron Askew, who remains at the company as chairman.

"She is maniacally focused on driving results for our clients' business," Mr. Askew said of his successor. "She has real diplomatic skills in crisis and transitional times. But she is wicked smart, so you better bring your A game. If not, she will let you know ... with a smile," he added.

Part of her executive approach involves "breaking down agency bureaucracy," Ms. Kaminkow said. This included the recent revamp of TracyLocke.com, the look of which came about as an open-source contest within the agency. The company no longer has a web developer; instead, all employees contribute to the site's content.

The new TracyLocke.com includes a BrandTracker, which measures up-to-the-second ups and downs in social activity for clients including Starbucks, Pepsi, Mtn Dew and 7-Eleven. The effort is part of the company's "Creativity With Consequence" philosophy, which focuses on transparency. "The days of creativity for the sake of creativity and awards are gone," said Ms. Kaminkow. "We have a greater responsibility to be brand ambassadors for the clients we serve."

For Ms. Kaminkow, the evolution of marketing is about getting people to spend more time with a brand and engage with it in more-meaningful ways. In March, for example, the agency designed a custom program for Target that celebrated the launch of Pepsi's "skinny can" by rewarding customers with savings for buying Diet Pepsi and People magazine, complementing the national "Get the Skinny" campaign by Omnicom agency TBWA/Chiat/Day. TracyLocke has also been involved with Pepsi Refresh, the Wisk relaunch, Starbucks' Via instant coffee and Gatorade's new G-series Fit line, for which it partnered with Walgreens to bring consumer fitness education into stores. And while this past October saw the loss of its longtime Tabasco account, 2010 brought in the $32 million Buffets business.

None of TracyLocke's accomplishments could be possible without putting people first, Ms. Kaminkow said. As chief talent officer from 2006-2009, she proved herself as a leader that helped to "create a culture of strong entrepreneurial leaders who continue to grow TracyLocke's business," Mr. Askew said. "I couldn't be more confident in my successor and her success."

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