Anne Bologna


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Ask Anne Bologna what it's like being the founding partner and CEO of indie agency Toy, and she'll say it feels like a dream. Despite years in the agency business, Ms. Bologna, 51, says she never imagined one day she'd own her own shop.

Before leaving her post as president of Fallon, New York, along with partners Ari Merkin and David Dabill, Ms. Bologna spent 10 years at Fallon in Minneapolis, where she earned the title of head of strategic planning. While at the agency, she pioneered new thinking on brands such as Starbucks -- she was responsible for creating the Starbucks brand bible in the late 1990s -- and lent her strategic thinking to marketers such as Citibank and BMW.

"There are the planners who research people, and then there are the planners who can really put their finger on a really human insight. ... That's what she is," says David Lubars, chairman-chief creative officer of BBDO North America. "She has the talent to really mine for some kind of great insight."

Mr. Lubars, who spent time in the Fallon trenches with Ms. Bologna, adds: "She's a great leader; whether they are clients or people in her own agency, people love to be around her."

So what does Ms. Bologna, who's also a guest lecturer at the Harvard Business School, worry about? "Resisting the temptation to do what everyone else is doing or says you should be doing," she says.

Marching to the beat of its own drummer seems to be working for Toy. Less than three years into the venture, the shop has rapidly grown its list of clients to include Macy's, the Oxygen cable network and YouTube. It just won a substantial branding assignment from BusinessWeek and is enjoying creative successes such as the wildly popular ElfYourself digital campaign for OfficeMax. Some 26.4 million people -- nearly one in 10 Americans -- logged on to the company's website during the 2007 holiday season to paste images of their faces onto dancing elves.
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