The Player: Bousquette brings 24-hour manic energy to Sears role

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Janine Bousquette has joined what some regard as a rather too-exclusive set-women who run retail-company marketing departments.

Hoffman Estates, Ill.-based Sears, Roebuck & Co-a $1.48 billion marketer struggling with credit-card debt woes and operating in the challenged department-store sector-last month named Ms. Bousquette as its exec VP-chief customer and marketing officer.

"Fundamentally, the role is to build the Sears business," said Ms. Bousquette, 41, a few days into the newly created post. Her philosophy is centered on keeping a "consistent face with the consumer." After an initial "listening" period, Ms. Bousquette said she will help develop "strategic clarity." Although too early to discuss agency relationships, she said she wants to deliver a clear message through all its ads.

Sears' main agencies are WPP Group's Ogilvy & Mather and Y&R, Chicago.

Ms. Bousquette comes to Sears with a blue-chip marketing background. She spent 12 years at Procter & Gamble Co., working on soap, household cleaners, cosmetics and fragrances. She also served as Pepsi-Cola Co.'s VP-marketing overseeing Pepsi, Josta, Mountain Dew, Slice and Mug root beer.

Ms. Bousquette jumped on the dot-com bandwagon from 1999 to 2001, becoming VP-marketing at eToys. Up against behemoth Toys 'R' Us, she hired Publicis Groupe's Publicis & Hal Riney and led the development of an unlikey dot-com ad campaign showing bonding moments between parent and child. She also paired the e-tailer with Rosie O'Donnell's talk show for a promotion to give away books to elementary schools. Though bankrupt, eToys continues as a KB Holdings subsidiary, Most recently she worked as a consultant.

Toy marketing is a family affair for Ms. Bousquette, a graduate of the University of Michigan. Her brother, Matt, is president of Mattel's boy's toys and entertainment division. While at eToys, Advertising Age named her a "Woman to Watch" in 2000 ( QwikFIND aan47l).


"She was unbelievably committed to the work," said one agency executive who worked with her, "not a 9-to-5 client, a 24-hour client." He added, "In the midst of the dot-com roller coaster, she held up, and didn't give up."

Another executive called Ms. Bousquette, who cut back her Diet Pepsi habit to four or six cans a day, "wonderfully manic-it wasn't easy but it was great."

Through her career, Ms. Bousquette said she's learned that "really understanding and respecting the customer leads to enduring business success."

Sears faces one of its most challenging, and short, holiday seasons and a crucial launch of the Lands' End brand, which it purchased in June. Sears "is caught in the crossfire between Target, Kohl's and off-pricers," said Burt Flickinger, managing director, Strategic Resource Group, a New York-based consulting company.

Fast Facts

Name: Janine Bousquette

Age: 41

Now: Exec VP-chief customer and marketing officer

Challenge: Create a clear marketing message for Sears

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