Betty Pat McCoy

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Because her employer is based in Austin and her first name is two words, people frequently assume that Betty Pat McCoy's hair is big and she lives in Texas.

That conjecture vanishes when they meet her. The no-nonsense Midwesterner is a seasoned media buying veteran who established GSD&M's booming Chicago office, where the agency's media buying is centered and totals about $700 million. The senior VP-director of national broadcast believes her heartland roots are the source of a "kinder, gentler negotiation" style. "You have to understand you can win [a negotiation] but you might lose the relationship," she says.

But Ms. McCoy, 46, is no pushover. Widely regarded as one of the savviest media buyers in the business, Ms. McCoy was recruited by Omnicom Group-owned GSD&M from Bloom Advertising, Chicago, in 1995. Her mission was to open GSD&M's office there and serve as the point person on the high-profile MasterCard Internat-ional account, with buying to be headquartered in Chicago. She has not disappointed.

"I'm glad I don't have to negotiate with Betty Pat," says Caryl Hahn, VP-media services at MasterCard. "I'm glad she's negotiating for me. She's our secret weapon."

Ms. McCoy is most proud of nailing sponsorship of the British Open for the credit card brand. "It was a coup-a multiyear deal. We've locked everyone out of it."

The office Ms. McCoy heads has grown substantially from just two people on staff when she started to 50 staffers. And GSD&M now buys for three of the top 10 advertisers bought out of the city-Dream-Works SKG, MasterCard and Wal-Mart Stores.

Media buying has changed significantly since Ms. McCoy's start in the business at what is now Euro RSCG Tatham McConnaughy in 1978. Back then, media buyers calculated ratings without relying on computers. "Today, I make all my people get out their Nielsen Pocket Piece and show me where the numbers come from," says Ms. McCoy, referring to the pocket-size book that's published weekly and helps buyers calculate ratings.

She also understands people skills-"knowing how far you can push," she says. "You know when you've gotten [a salesman] as low as you can."

Ms. McCoy takes the long view on recent industry trends, such as the shift to media-buying specialty shops. She she says big shops may receive great deals, but "only so many [clients] get the best spots." Her prediction: "Clients will see this is a wave. It is hard to walk away from people who know a client inside and out, and buy specifically for them."

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