John Engberg

Manager-Global Media and Web Development, Kohler Co.

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John Engberg couldn't have planned it better when he pursued a double major in marketing and information systems at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1988. After five years of media planning and buying at Leo Burnett, Chicago, he was recruited by Kohler Co. in 1994 to help take the company's media buying in-house. Three years later, he was on the team that launched its website and has stayed at the forefront of its web and media-buying operations.
  • Pioneer in online how-to videos to sell bath products

  • Kohler site generates more than 1.8 million monthly visits

Today, as manager of global media and web development, Mr. Engberg, 43, straddles traditional marketing and computer technology, working to make Kohler's brand-marketing efforts as seamless, highly interactive and self-guided as possible.

"Consumers want to control their own media experience, so our goal is to give them the path to get more information through every possible channel, whether they're at a home-improvement store, watching TV or a video, sitting at a personal computer or using a hand-held device like an iPhone," he says.

Last year Mr. Engberg helped relaunch with 50 related websites and microsites. Overall, the site generates in excess of 1.8 million visits and 30 million page views per month, far outdistancing its competitors, Mr. Engberg says.

Overseeing a team of nine web-content managers, Mr. Engberg ensures that TV, print, radio and internet ads interrelate, directing users to "One of our most popular online tools is Products 101, where we've created entertaining, two-minute features like what you would see on a TV home-improvement show on the basics of selecting faucet or a bathtub," Mr. Engberg says.

An example of Kohler's web-and-traditional-media integration was this year's humorous TV spot for toilets called "Jo's Plumbing," created by GSD&M, Austin, Texas, which drove traffic online.

Starcom Worldwide Media Supervisor Ed Hausser, who has worked on Kohler, calls Mr. Engberg a "technology aficionado" who is "able to filter out all the background noise surrounding new media and really see how it can be used for Kohler's benefit."

Kohler is a lot more than plumbing products. In addition to its long-standing kitchen and bath products, it also sells furniture, engines and generators, and has a thriving resort business with hotels in Wisconsin, Scotland and Ireland. Mr. Engberg is responsible for all these divisions as they relate to the web.
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