Special Report: Cathy Frangos

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Cathy Frangos, owner of Medianet, Chicago, shines at helping her clients get at the most elusive of b-to-b audiences. As Kellogg Co.’s media buyer, handling the outsourced business for Bcom3 Group Inc., Frangos helps the breakfast food giant target a customer base that’s as important as consumers: route drivers.

She’s gained acclaim for her work for the Battle Creek, Mich.-based company, which owns 31% of the cereal marketplace. Frangos buys space touting everything from Pop-Tarts, to Rice Krispies Treats, to Eggo waffles. Her specialty is convincing snack-vending machine route drivers—a jaded, harried client base with scant patience for marketing pitches—to choose Kellogg’s brands over other snack foods.

The biggest challenge, she said, is "getting through the maze of people" to reach drivers. To do so, she avoids the masses and mass publications, running ads in top industry trade magazines, including Automatic Merchandiser and Vending. Adding to her challenge is reaching the cereal buyers at heavyweights including Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Costco Wholesale Corp., whom she also reaches through industry-specific trade publications.

Lately, her biggest challenge has been making key demographics aware that Kellogg’s acquisition of elf cookie kingpin Keebler Foods Co. is complete. "We’re bringing the two together, and letting the trade know that it’s still the same Kellogg, only bigger," Frangos said.

Niche-wise, Frangos drills down even deeper when helping another client, candy trade magazine Confectioner, evaluate its competitors. "We do circulation analysis, a lot of research and evaluate the ads of the competition," she said.

The idea of working as a sole proprietor came seven years ago after a long, grueling day at her last employer, CPM Inc., said Frangos, whose Medianet office is three flights below her Chicago apartment. "I came home one night after an 18-hour day," Frangos said. "My husband looked at me, gave me a set of keys, and said, ‘take that apartment downstairs.’" (Frangos owns the building, a six-flat near Wrigley Field.) Since then, she’s built an eclectic and impressive b-to-b client list outside of Kellogg and Confectioner, including Aaron M. Levine & Associates, a Washington-based law firm.

Regardless of her clients’ goals, she said, her approach is the same. "I bring them my level of planning, which is very documented and well-researched. I don’t believe in just placing ads," Frangos said.


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