Player Profile: Former Maytag man now consumed by electronics

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Mark Buss has jumped from the simmer and hum of the kitchen to the unpredictable cacophony of home entertainment. After spending nearly 20 years at Maytag Appliances, he's quickly becoming ensconced in the world of consumer electronics as chief marketing officer for Philips Consumer Electronics North America.

The 45-year-old Maytag vet who devised brand strategies for the Maytag and Jenn-Air brands and helped launch a new cooking products line, among other assignments, was ready for a new challenge in a different industry. So when Larry Blanford, Philips' president-CEO and the former president of Maytag's Major Appliance Division, called, Mr. Buss was excited to leave Newton, Iowa, and head to Atlanta, Philips' consumer electronics headquarters in North America.

The consumer electronics industry typically invests more in research and development than major appliance marketers, a fact Mr. Buss found appealing. "The [consumer electronics] industry is much more fast-paced," he said. Though he admits there are similarities between the two sets of consumers, the new digital products marketed by Philips and other brands are more exciting, not to mention entertaining.

Having joined the Philips team just before Labor Day, he'll get a baptism by fire in the chief marketing officer job, as the fourth quarter is traditionally make-or-break for consumer electronics marketers. Taking over the post from Mike Lang, who shifted into a new position as general manager of the audio/video group, Mr. Buss will oversee strategy and execution for Philips' marketing in North America. Philips Consumer Electronics brand management, public relations, merchandising, consumer research, project management and channel strategy departments all report to him.

Mr. Buss also expects to lead the effort to integrate all of Philips' marketing activities. The goal of integration is expected to begin in earnest as Aegis Group's Carat ramps up on Philips Electronics' $600 million global media buying and planning account. Philips' cross-marketing pact with AOL Time Warner is expected to be a linchpin of the new push toward integrated marketing.

Mr. Buss loves his new industry's spirit of innovation. He helped infuse Maytag with that spirit in his last assignments with the major appliance marketer. As VP of Maytag's cooking category, Mr. Buss helped launch and market the dual-oven Gemini range, a unique product in a category flooded with sameness; Maytag won a New York American Marketing Association Effie award, given to honor the most effective advertising, for the Gemini product launch.

As VP-strategic marketing, he helped lead Maytag's drive to contemporize Ol' Lonely, the iconic Maytag Repairman. So the venerable and perpetually bored repairman got an apprentice. TV advertising from Bcom3 Group's Leo Burnett, Chicago, Maytag's longtime agency, shows the apprentice exploring and testing new products for their innovative technology and performance.

Mr. Buss is jazzed about Philips, looking forward to leveraging all aspects of the marketing mix. "My goal is really to develop the strongest marketing organization in the [consumer electronics] industry. We [already] have a lot of focus on product and not enough on marketing," he said, adding, "It's completely energizing."

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