Olympic Effort With Far-Flung Group of Media Directors Pushes TBWA/Chiat/Day Ahead

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Monica Karo is the apple of Steve Jobs' eye.

The CEO of Apple Computer is just one of Ms. Karo's many fans.

"She's incredibly talented and a key member of the Apple advertising team," he says of Ms. Karo, 42, corporate media director for TBWA/Chiat/Day, Playa del Rey, Calif.

Her work to shepherd Apple's media account comprises only a slice of her daily activities. She also coordinates media strategies, direction and budgets for more than a dozen clients -- that's oversight on $1.4 billion in annual media expenditures for TBWA/Chiat/Day in North America.


Ms. Karo also plays an active role in the agency's new business efforts. She's credited as a key player in the agency's recent win of the $150 million International Olympic Committee account. To prepare for the pitch, she organized TBWA's far-flung group of global media directors into a formidable idea factory. She would communicate daily with executives from offices in Australia, Canada, France, Greece, Japan and South America, often pitching ideas and asking questions such as "How would something like this work in your market? Can this idea be executed?"

According to Bob Kuperman, president-CEO, TBWA Worldwide, Ms. Karo won the IOC over by showing media could be both creative and fun.


Satisfying her need for creativity is what led Ms. Karo to advertising. In 1979, she was headed for a training program at Chemical Bank, when an acquaintance convinced her to try a career in advertising. What she thought would be a 12-week, post-college dalliance at Benton & Bowles blossomed into a 20-year media career handling clients such as Procter & Gamble Co., Texaco and Levi Strauss & Co.

She cultivated much of her entrepreneurial spirit early in her career, by leaving a comfortable job at D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles at 27, to venture out on her own.

"I left my position as an associate media director to make one of the riskiest moves ever," says Ms. Karo. She formed Biederman, Kelly & Shaffer in New York. Shaffer is Ms. Karo's maiden name.

Ms. Karo says that experience not only fortified her media expertise, it taught her other essential business survival skills.


"It was a typical small business start-up story," she says. "If the copier broke down, I called the copier company and had it fixed. I did real estate, I contacted the landlord."

Ms. Karo seems to have picked up many personal skills during her career. Her colleagues describe her as not merely professional, but also approachable and outgoing.

Not only does Ms. Karo have the admiration of her co-workers for her business savvy, she also takes the title of best-dressed in the Playa del Rey office. Quipped one agency executive, "In an office where shorts and [sandals] are the

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