Power people

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Strong-willed executives remade the ad agency landscape. Now strong-willed client executives at Burger King Corp. and Coca-Cola Co. have taken their turn at setting the ad world spinning by moving millions of dollars worth of advertising assignments. In marketing, people and personalities still matter-and matter very much. It's a difficult, unpredictable but often healthy aspect of the ad business.

Burger King Chief Marketing Officer Chris Clouser and Steven J. Heyer, a consultant (Booz-Allen & Hamilton) turned agency executive ( Young & Rubicam) turned media executive (Turner Broadcasting Service) turned marketer executive (new-ventures chief at Coca-Cola Co.), have both been charged with being change agents for their companies, and last month's account switches show they don't flinch from the task.

No matter how advertising and marketing can focus on "by-the-numbers" issues-coming up with return-on-investment data for client chief financial officers or "objective" criteria in agency reviews-the power of personality is never far beneath the service. No matter how big the organizations behind them, personal confidence and chemistry among top executives at clients and agencies can have as much or more impact than lists of agency holding company capabilities and networks of offices.

Many an account resides at a particular agency because of the strong working relationship that develops between a top client executive and one (or a few) key agency people. Yes, perhaps the quality and effectiveness of the work should ultimately rule-but the power of people, and the confidence that good personal chemistry generates-still can tip the scales.

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