Laura Caraccioli-Davis

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With one foot in Hollywood and the other in the heartland where many of her clients are based, Laura Caraccioli-Davis insists that advertisers and movieland are from different planets.

But as VP-director of Publicis Groupe's SMG Entertainment, Ms. Caraccioli-Davis brings cautious advertisers together with entertainment projects where deals are inked with blinding speed and no certainties.

The benefits are many: Hollywood needs help funding TV programming and films, and advertisers are looking to get their products into TV programs, film scripts and sets. Live events including sponsorships and concert tours are increasingly part of the game.

Since establishing the Chicago-based SMG Entertainment in 1998 as a unit within Bcom3's Starcom (now owned by Publicis), Ms. Caraccioli-Davis, 40, has helped create diverse vehicles for advertisers including Fruit of the Loom's "Countryfest," a televised 12-hour country music program including a nationwide tour. Most recently, SMG Entertainment engineered Polaroid Corp.'s involvement in Fox's "Love Cruise" reality series, and also orchestrated Kellogg Co.'s sponsorship of the current nationwide "American Idol" tour, which kicks off Oct. 8 and features 10 finalists from the Fox TV hit reality show, in which TV viewers voted on their favorite pop singer. Ms. Caraccioli-Davis says they worked early on with CAA, which is organizing the tour, and thus were able to get better exposure for Kellogg Co.'s Pop-Tart Snak Stix.

It's a new spin on media, but in many ways, it's a return to a tradition started by Starcom progenitor Leo Burnett Co. as far back as 1949, when the agency created TV specials for advertisers including Pillsbury Co. and Procter & Gamble Co.

"We found a way to bring Polaroid into the `Love Cruise' story line in a natural way, so it added to the show, and it made a much bigger impact than a TV commercial could," she says.

The "American Idol" tour was another coup, because Kellogg was able to associate its brand with a hot pop-culture concept via swift footwork by the seven-person SMG Entertainment staff.

Getting advertisers to think in "Hollywood time" is an uphill task, says Ms. Caraccioli-Davis. Finding unique entertainment opportunities and making the right recommendations is constantly challenging and thrilling.

"Entertainment is moving faster than ever, and you can't blink or you'll miss out on an opportunity," she says.

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