Women to Watch 2007

Ann Mukherjee


By Published on .

NEXT: Michelle Bottomley

When you talk about ideas with Frito-Lay's Ann Mukherjee, you want to -- do something. Run a mile, meet a deadline ... learn Russian. That happens when you meet inspiring people.

Ann Mukherjee, VP-marketing, Frito-Lay

Imagine working for her. "As a leader," says the snack-food giant's VP-marketing, "I believe I'll be successful when I unlock people's passions so that they can unlock their potential."

Known affectionately as "The Queen of Corn" at the division of PepsiCo, Ms. Mukherjee "helps people push past their comfort zones to get to that 'art' side of marketing."

With that, she adds, "comes a little risk." Luckily, she reigns supreme over risk.

For example, Doritos' 2007 "Crash the Super Bowl" contest gave power to the people. Consumers selected two winners from five consumer-created TV spots. The two winning spots aired during Super Bowl XLI, "giving consumers the biggest stage possible from which to express their passion for the brand," says Ms. Mukherjee, 41.

It was "a great big idea," says Rudy Wilson, Doritos brand manager, who describes his boss' passion for marketing as "infectious."

The contest was one of several initiatives aimed at deepening Doritos' relationship with its self-expressive, Gen X consumers, "demonstrating that we really care about what they think," Ms. Mukherjee says. Last March, for instance, Doritos' "Fight for the Flavor" program launched two rival flavors. Consumers will decide whether Wild White Nacho or Smokin' Cheddar BBQ ultimately survives on store shelves.

One thing you won't find on Ms. Mukherjee's official bio? This mother of twins consumes sports programming the way others inhale Frito-Lay snacks. "I even love sumo wrestling," she says. "I just love the thrill of competition."
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