Kathy Button Bell

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Kathy Button Bell, VP-chief marketing officer at industrial manufacturer Emerson Electric, is a multitasker.

During a half-hour phone interview with BtoB, she discussed Emerson's marketing strategy, called up data from a new marketing research report on her computer and had surprise visits from Chairman-CEO David Farr and President James Berges in her office to discuss Emerson's leadership conference last week.

She handled it all seamlessly, demonstrating her ability to sift through information quickly, make executive decisions and communicate articulately-all important skills for a CMO.

For Emerson, which changed its brand from Emerson Electric with a major campaign launched in 2002, communicating the message of just what the $15.6 billion manufacturer does was an important priority this year.

The company introduced new ads in the U.S. as a continuation of its "Consider It Solved" ad campaign, developed by DDB Chicago, as well as expanding into global markets. "Previously, we had been a little U.S.-centric," Button Bell said.

In the past, Emerson had done some limited advertising in Chinese business media, but this year it expanded that effort to include Chinese- and English-language publications in the Chinese market, which represents about $1 billion in annual sales for Emerson.

It also launched new campaigns in Latin America and Europe. The ads focus on Emerson's 60-plus business divisions, including network power, climate technologies and process management, and show how Emerson solves business problems for customers.

New ads feature clients including the city of Los Angeles, Shell Philippines Exploration, Telefonica, Tesco and Wyeth Pharmaceuticals in a case-study format.

In addition to print ads, Emerson bought large dioramas in airports and developed a 90-second corporate video it showed on China Air to reach business travelers.

So far, the rebranding campaign is showing success. In a new research study of Emerson customers, investors, employees and the media, the company saw significant shifts in each of the four "brand pillars" it measures: global industry expertise, providing credible solutions, innovative engineering and stability.

For example, investors' view of Emerson as the leader in the marketplace went up 20 percentage points and it moved to first place among its customers as the leader in the marketplace, ranking above competitors General Electric Co. and Sony Corp., Button Bell said.

"We've done a much better job defining ourselves in the marketplace," she said. "Over time, our divisions and platforms are getting better aligned with the marketing message."

Before the "Consider It Solved" campaign, Emerson had focused much of its advertising at the division level. The new campaign ties together the Emerson corporate brand with its business divisions.

The marketing efforts seem to be paying off. For its fiscal year 2004, Emerson's net sales reached a record $15.6 billion, up 12% over net sales in fiscal 2003. Earnings per share were up 15%.

Before joining Emerson in 1999, Button Bell was executive director of worldwide marketing communications for Converse Inc.; prior to that she was director of advertising and PR for Wilson Sporting Goods.

-Kate Maddox

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