Mary Moudry's colleagues at DDB Worldwide, San Francisco, like one thing about her most: She does everything, from interfacing with parent company Omnicom Group to handling DDB's third-largest worldwide account to even picking up a hammer and fixing things as needed.
"I'm the red phone" people call for help, says Ms. Moudry, 46, recently named president of DDB's San Francisco office. Ms. Moudry says she "loved life" at DDB, Chicago, working with ad legends such as DDB Chairman-CEO Keith Reinhardt on McDonald's Corp.
But in the 1980s she "reluctantly" followed her high-tech husband to what fellow Chicagoans called "Silly-cone" Valley, venturing into what she thought would be a two-year gig at Foote, Cone & Belding Worldwide, San Francisco. There, she worked on accounts that included Levi Strauss & Co., California Raisin Advisory Board and Clorox.
She also was in charge of personnel retention before jumping from FCB, a "hard-to-navigate battleship," in 1996 to join the reopened San Francisco office of DDB that was handed the $85 million Clorox account due to a conflict with FCB Chicago client S.C. Johnson & Son.
In a hard-hit San Francisco ad market, and one where creative is king, DDB has focused on less flashy ads to push plastic bags and laundry cleaners. Today, Clorox's U.S. billings exceed $300 million, and DDB's roster has grown to include Heinz brands, Fetzer vineyards, Celestial Seasonings and a fledgling tech practice.
Says Ms. Moudry, who studied existentialism in Spain while she was in college: "At the end of the day, it's a lot about substance, not about sizzle."