2003 Best & Brightest Media Strategists

Key b-to-b clients:

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Parker-Hannifin Corp., MetroHealth System, Management Recruiters International Years in media business:5 Trend for 2004:"A lot of clients are still holding some dollars back and waiting to see if the economy shakes out. We haven't seen a recovery yet."

Brian Pokorny, a 27-year-old senior media planner at Brokaw, has broad depth and breadth of experience for his five years in the business. His background includes broadcast, print and Internet buying for b-to-b and b-to-c clients across a wide range of industries, including manufacturing, transportation, restaurants, financial services and health care.

Since joining Cleveland-based Brokaw in July 2002, he has worked with a diverse range of clients, such as manufacturer Parker-Hannifin Corp., hospital group MetroHealth System and Management Recruiters International.

Pokorny takes a nontraditional approach to media planning, seeking out vehicles that reach the client's target audience in unexpected yet highly targeted ways.

For example, this year he worked with Parker-Hannifin on the client's first corporate TV campaign. The company, which manufactures motion and control systems for engineering applications, had relied primarily on print ads in b-to-b publications in the past. It wanted to raise awareness of the Parker-Hannifin brand among its engineer audience, as well as with C-level executives.

So Pokorny and his team conducted in-depth research to find out not only what media engineers consume but also how they perceive themselves. He uses a combination of standardized research, focus groups and editorial evaluation to determine which media vehicles are best for individual clients.

Brokaw's research found that engineers watch cable shows such as "Junkyard Wars" on the Learning Channel and "Modern Marvels" on the History Channel.

"The best way of reaching engineers doesn't seem like it would be broadcast or cable, but in order to go national in a nontraditional way, we had to find shows that had editorial significance," Pokorny said.

So Brokaw developed a campaign with the tagline "Anything possible," showing how engineers create innovations from observing ordinary events in life. The spots ran on "Junkyard Wars," "Modern Marvels" and CNBC's "Squawk Box" and "Business Day."

"For a client like Parker, which traditionally is involved in trade print, we look at different publications and quantify each magazine on circulation, cost and other metrics, then drill down deeper into the numbers to see how these publications reach our clients' demographic," he said.

Pokorny noted that online is another important part of media planning, but many b-to-b clients are still wary of investing too much in new technologies. "We try to use the Internet as part of every campaign," he said, stressing the importance of integration.

Pokorny started his career as a media assistant at Wyse Advertising, Cleveland. He moved into broadcast buying, then media planning for the agency, working with clients such as Rockwell International and Freightliner. -K.M.

Title: Senior VP-global media director Company: Digitas Location: New York Key b-to-b clients:American Express, D&B, FedEx, GM Fleet, Morgan Stanley Years in media business:23 Trend for 2004:"Wireless media continues to evolve, though slowly. But there's a big push for it, since ultimately we'll be able to reach customers anytime and anywhere."

Carl Fremont, senior VP-global media director for integrated marketing agency Digitas, sees himself as both a scientist and an artist.

"Online media is a perfect marriage of the craft I've been practicing for years, with constantly advancing technology that allows me to implement and measure campaigns in whole new ways," said Fremont, who joined Digitas three years ago.

Fremont has spent his entire 23-year career on the media side, starting out at the Ted Bates agency, then moving to Wunderman.

"I worked in general brand advertising for so long, it got frustrating not to be able to account for the results. But online, I'm able to take accountability to the highest level. It is an art and a science that nobody has perfected yet."

Fremont has put the Web to work for such b-to-b clients as American Express, FedEx and GM Fleet. Recently he's been instrumental in expanding the reach for American Express' Open Network to small businesses that might not visit the American Express site.

"We've taken components of the Open Network site and distributed content to other sites small businesses visit frequently, such as New York Times Online," Fremont said. "We used both push and pull to our advantage, pulling them in with the editorial and interactive features such as calculators, and then pushing them with links to a site where they could apply for an Open [credit] card. It's been very successful for our client."

Looking to the future, Fremont sees two hurdles for marketers and agencies to clear: "Media continue to fragment, so marketers need to get more involved in building and connecting vertical communities online," he said. "Those who can successfully embed themselves and become valuable members of such communities will be able to garner greater loyalty than ever before."

The other hurdle is that no one yet truly knows the best way to integrate media, he said.

"The Internet still won't be the single most impactful channel," Fremont said. "All media play important roles, and marketers and agencies alike are all looking for the right sequence of media and vehicles to best build interest, consideration and loyalty." -Roger Slavens

Title: Senior VP-media services Company: NKH&W Location: Kansas City, Mo. Key b-to-b clients:FMC Agricultural Products Group, 3M Health Care, Sprint Years in media business:27 Trend for 2004:"Alternative media and grassroots marketing have been very successful in the consumer arena lately, and it's starting to trickle into b-to-b."

If remote radio broadcasts work for car dealerships, restaurants and banks, then why can't they work for a b-to-b marketer? That's the kind of out-of-the-box thinking Sheree Johnson has become famous for.

Johnson pitched that idea to client FMC Agricultural Products Group, a maker of agricultural chemicals and insecticides, stressing that such grassroots marketing tactics fit well with community-minded farmers.

"FMC was relaunching a product and didn't have an extensive budget," said Johnson, senior VP-media services for Kansas City, Mo.-based marketing agency NKH&W. "We enlisted a number of radio stations to do remote [broadcasts] at retail farm stores, where FMC employees took interviews and taught farmers one-on-one about the chemicals and the FMC brand. Nobody involved had ever done something like this."

In a different way, the agency is helping 3M Health Care find the right media mix by using a proprietary communications impact model that Johnson helped develop. It looks at metrics such as existing brand awareness and audience predisposition.

"In this case, we found that 3M had a very high brand awareness but very low product awareness," Johnson said, citing products such as gauzes, bandages and tapes. "Now we have to figure out ways to reach and interest very busy medical professionals."

In working with Sprint to improve its DSL penetration, NKH&W saw there was a strong relationship between high-level computer users and coffee drinkers.

"We put Sprint calling cards on java jackets at independent coffee shops. [The cards] featured several minutes of long distance and, of course, an ad for the DSL product," she said. "We love to catch customers off guard."

With many clients short-staffed, NKH&W has to step in and provide marketing services that are both cost-effective and quick to implement.

"[Clients] used to have the luxury of waiting and letting marketing messages build," Johnson said. "Now they want results immediately. We're all held more accountable." -R.S.

Title: Exec VP-director of strategic planning Company: McCann-Erickson San Francisco Location: San Francisco Key b-to-b clients:Microsoft Corp., AMD, Applied Materials Years in media business:21 Trend for 2004:"Integration means having true budget fluidity between online, offline and other vehicles."

Rob Kabus has a truly integrated role at McCann-Erickson, San Francisco. As exec VP-director of strategic planning, he oversees both account planning and media for the agency's clients, including Microsoft Corp., AMD and Applied Materials.

In this role, he works in close partnership with Karen Polsky, managing director of sister media-buying agency Universal McCann, San Francisco, and James Lou, director of account planning at McCann-Erickson.

"We have to assure messaging integration between everything we do," said Kabus, a 21-year media-planning veteran.

"It really starts with an understanding of the effect we are looking to have in the marketplace and understanding the person who will be responsible for that effect," Kabus said.

He added that understanding the target audience has to combine quantitative and qualitative research, with an emphasis on qualitative research to understand the customer's mindset and moods affecting the decision-making process.

When McCann-Erickson was developing the Tablet PC campaign for Microsoft in March, it needed to convey the benefits of a new technology that lets people interact with their laptops in revolutionary ways, including writing with a pen, Kabus said.

"The challenge was: How do we capture the idea of a new technology and make people understand the cool stuff it lets you do?" he said.

The agency took an integrated approach to the campaign, using print and online ads to demonstrate the applications and benefits of the Tablet PC to mobile workers.

Online ads ran on MSN,, and CBS MarketWatch, and featured full-page interstitials before the home page loaded. On the home page, six different executions featured demos of the technology. One ad showed a virtual pen writing "The future is here," followed by a quickly drawn smiley face. The banner read: "It's the PC, evolved."

In print ads, the agency worked with legends in various industries who talked about how the Tablet PC helped them in their jobs. For example, an ad in Sports Illustrated featured Randy Shannon, defensive coordinator for the University of Miami football team, and an ad in Architectural Digest featured architect William Massie.

"Everyone talks about integration," Kabus said. "For some people, that means just getting everything on one flow chart. Integration means having true budget fluidity between online, offline and other vehicles."

Kabus started his media career in 1982 as an assistant media planner at Grey Advertising, New York. He helped Grey open a new office in Orange County, Calif., then he moved to Ketchum Advertising in San Francisco.

Later, Kabus worked at Goodby, Silverstein & Partners as director of media planning, then at Leagas Delaney as director of strategic planning. He joined McCann in 2002. -K.M.

Title: Senior partner, group planning director Company: MindShare North America Location: New York Key b-to-b client: American Express Open Small Business Years in media business:10 Trend for 2004:"Planners who can understand and talk at a marketing level about how media strategy can give a return on media investment, instead of just reach and frequency."

Dervilla Kelly, senior partner and group planning director at MindShare North America, a media-buying agency of WPP Group, believes there is a lot more to media planning than achieving reach and frequency.

"You have to be able to talk about accountability from a marketing perspective and not just a media perspective," said Kelly, a native of Ireland who was hired by Ogilvy in 1993 as an assistant media planner.

In 2001 she joined MindShare's Advanced Techniques Group, a unit that provides econometric modeling and planning for the agency's major global clients. There, she worked on the Unilever account, leading adoption of the client's global channel planning in the U.S. "It was really learning the science of the marketing mix and the effectiveness of all the channels," she said.

Kelly said she takes a two-prong approach to media planning. The first is to develop rich insight about the target, and the second is to be accountable for how the media move the business goals.

"How does a business target really conduct business? What are the filters they go through? How do they interact with media?" Kelly said, pointing to the types of information she is looking for in developing a media plan. "You can't rely on syndicated research."

In 2002, Kelly moved into MindShare's strategic planning group to lead the launch of American Express Small Business Group's Open card for small-business owners.

Her first challenge was to understand the mindset and behaviors of small-business owners. To do this, Kelly and her team conducted three waves of online studies with precisely targeted questions. The agency then developed an integrated campaign that used TV, print, radio, online and direct.

One unusual media element was a reality show called "The Restaurant," which ran on NBC for six weeks in July. The show, developed in collaboration with American Express' other agency partners, featured small-business owners who use the Open card to set up their businesses and solve problems.

Another component of the campaign was a series of 120-second radio spots called "Dialog," featuring real small-business owners who talked to each other about business problems such as debt collection and employee issues. -K.M.

Title: VP-media Company: Avenue A Location: San Francisco Key b-to-b clients:Microsoft Corp. (Front Page, MSN Advantage), AT&T Wireless Years in media business:4 Trend for 2004:"For good or bad, we're looking at perhaps having to lock in Web ad buys for longer periods of time. Some in the industry want to have an annual upfront."

As VP-media for San Francisco-based interactive agency Avenue A, Jeff Lanctot is driven by a passion for data and analytics. "Personally, I can certainly appreciate good creative, but what I really get excited about is results," Lanctot said.

Although he's still relatively new to media planning (he joined Avenue A in 1999) Lanctot draws upon a background in corporate strategy for several Fortune 500 companies and what he calls a "dining-room diploma" in publishing.

"My father was a newspaper publisher, and media runs in the blood," he said.

In his four years at Avenue A, Lanctot has witnessed a distinct change in online media planning.

"It used to be a land-grab mentality-buy as much media as you could, as cheap as you could," he said. "But today the whole process is a lot more sophisticated and complicated."

Lanctot has overseen the media strategy for several Microsoft Corp. vertical units targeting Web site developers and business owners, as well as AT&T Wireless, Eddie Bauer and many other top brands. He also heads the agency's efforts to establish best practices for publishers and suppliers to bring greater efficiency to the media-buying process.

"For both our b-to-b and consumer clients, we're taking advantage of technologies to provide extremely targeted messaging and personalization," he said. Avenue A has created a targeting engine that takes an anonymous, aggregated look at online site visitors and identifies specific behaviors that indicate what buyers are interested in and where they are in the decision-making process.

Lanctot feels that now that Avenue A is an industry leader, with revenue of $132.7 million in 2002, his media team constantly has to prove itself.

"We have to be better than every other ad opportunity out there," he said. "We've developed a culture of needing to be the best, the most innovative."

The future of online media strategy, Lanctot said, will focus on better leveraging the Web for both branding and direct marketing activities.

"On the brand side, however, there is increasing talk that the Web might be ready for an upfront-an auction model for buying space to lock in dollars for an entire year at a time," he said. "I don't think we need it; it's extremely inefficient. But there already has been a shift in planning a month and a quarter at a time. What's good about this is that marketers are committing more of their efforts and money on long-term online strategies." -R.S.

Title: VP-media operations and analytics
Company: Fathom Online
Location: San Francisco
Key b-to-b clients:Cisco Systems, Intel Corp., Sprint Business, Wells Fargo
Years in media business:8
Trend for 2004:"Anyone can buy search marketing. The search engines have done a nice job of making it accessible. We throw in a lot of oth-er pieces to the pie that can make it work well."

Matt McMahon, VP-media operations and analytics at Fathom Online, San Francisco, is part of a new breed of media planner, specializing in search engine marketing.

McMahon joined one-year-old Fathom in January, bringing media planning experience and search engine marketing expertise. Fathom's planners are like stock traders, he said, spending their time tweaking campaigns, managing bids and leveraging relationships with search engines. In an hour's time, Fathom can make as many as 1 million bid updates across its campaign roster.

"It's a commodities market right now," McMahon said. "We're in there every day."

McMahon, who was product manager at Ask Jeeves before joining Fathom, considers every search a question.

"What are the different landing pages [at a client's Web site] that will allow clients to answer questions," he said. "Once you figure that out, you can determine which keywords make the most sense."

But search is more than identifying keywords. Good creative and smart campaign and bid management are also crucial, he said.

Along with identifying keywords, the agency writes creative to go along with them. For example, Fathom might compile 2,000 keywords and write 2,000 different pieces of text. Because specifications for each search engine are different, messages must be adapted. "The message has to be consistent but different in terms of words," McMahon said.

Fathom works with marketers and agency partners, including b-to-b marketers Intel and Wells Fargo. McMahon recently handled a Cisco Systems campaign with SF Interactive. Cisco wanted to distribute white papers to developers, so McMahon and his team identified keywords, handled bid management and developed creative for the campaign, which launched in July with 500 keywords on 10 different search engines. Fathom was able to drive down Cisco's cost per conversion.

McMahon said marketers should focus on conversions rather than number of click-throughs. "What we're really doing is buying leads for our clients," he said. "We're trying to figure out the most efficient way to do that." -Carol Krol

Title: Regional president, New York and Dallas
Company: itraffic
Location: New York
Key b-to-b clients:British Airways, BrownCo,
Years in media business:18
Trend for 2004:"Marketers are finally waking up and spending more of their budgets online, and media outlets are offering more bundled buys, giving marketers greater reach across a variety of online and offline publications."

Stacey Nachtaler likes to direct itraffic-the online advertising unit of new roads of innovation. As regional president for the agency's New York and Dallas operations, she's constantly looking to break the rules when it comes to using new ad formats and rich media.

"We're always wanting to do things that don't exist yet," Nachtaler said. "But we never forget that whatever we do has to be win-win-win for clients, Web publishers and ourselves."

A case in point: British Airways wanted to introduce international travelers to its new business-class totally flat bed, but faced a limited budget and a struggling post 9/11 economy.

"Our task was to engage some 10 million frequent overseas fliers online with this new product," Nachtaler said. "So we sat down with our creative team and literally decided to flip the ad world on its side."

Indeed, itraffic pioneered the first DHTML "page flip" on The New York Times' Web site.

"The entire browser flipped on its side to show how British Airways' flat bed worked," she said. "The Times was a bit reluctant to do it at first, but we convinced them to join us in this new paradigm, and guaranteed them it wouldn't become annoying by putting a frequency cap on it."

Tied in with an incentive of two free round-trip economy class tickets if customers enrolled in British Airways' frequent flier program and purchased a Club World ticket, the "Fly Flat, Fly Free" campaign was a huge success. The airline exceeded its frequent flier enrollment goal by 50%, and overall awareness of the flat bed seat grew 242%, according to itraffic reports.

Nachtaler is a well-respected thought leader in the industry, having worked in several key jobs prior to joining itraffic. As VP-global marketing at MasterCard International, she contributed to the "Priceless" campaign. She also headed up the marketing efforts for CNBC's sales organization and held senior account management posts with Ammirati Puris Lintas and Grey Advertising.


Title: Exec VP-director of media
Company: Carat Interactive
Location: New York
Key b-to-b clients:D&B, Pfizer, Rational Software (IBM)
Years in media business:24
Trend for 2004:"[The Web] has to be very much aligned to offline [marketing efforts]. It has a role, but it can't do everything."

With 24 years of experience in media strategy, working for clients such as Procter & Gamble Co. and the U.S. Army, Greg Smith has formed an opinion about a medium or two. Now, as exec VP-director of media in Carat Interactive's New York office, Smith sees much in the media-buying world that can be improved. "TV is a powerful medium," he said, "but advertisers are more addicted to TV than consumers are."

Smith was an early convert to the Internet. At Zenith Media Services, he started a nontraditional media-planning group in 1996, and he helped found Darwin Digital in 1997.

He remains a believer in the Web, but he's not a zealot. "Certainly, it has to be very much aligned to offline [marketing efforts]," he said. "It has a role, but it can't do everything."

As with any other advertising medium, the key to generating results is to use it properly. "You have to know what the right target is," Smith said. "It may sound obvious, but in b-to-b you have many influencers, so the plan is only as good as the understanding of the marketplace."

For every project he works on, Smith asks three questions: First, what are the marketing goals of the client? "It's not the media or the advertising goals, but the marketing goals," he said.

Second, what role can the Internet play? "If you've got a key target that is not a heavy Internet user, it can't play a big role," he said.

And third, how will it be known if the program was successful? "It's important that we know how many leads the sales force got and what the response was. But we really want to know how did it translate into sales," Smith said.

In his years of working with Web advertising, Smith has learned a key lesson about creative. A marketer, he said, should assume that, if its messages are targeted properly, little background information is necessary in Internet advertising creative.

"Your message really has to be about your product and about closing the deal," he said. "You don't want that to sound like it's a hard sell; it's more about 'Let's get down to business. I know you're interested in routers, because you're reading about routers, so let's talk about routers.' That was a big insight."

-Sean Callahan

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