10 people to watch in '04

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1 Roger Deromedi, CEO, Kraft Foods

Say cheese: A shakeup this month left Roger Deromedi sole CEO of America's largest food company. Deromedi (formerly co-CEO with North American chief Betsy Holden) is expected to continue to invest a total of $600 million over the next year on ads and promotions in hard-hit categories including cheese and biscuits. But one Wall Street observer believes "[Roger] won't be afraid to evaluate in a more detailed way [than Betsy] did and make some of the tougher decisions, whether in terms of people or organizational structure."

2 Edgar Bronfman Jr., Former Seagram CEO, now partner in Warner Music

The spirits scion has been itching to get back into entertainment ever since his family sold Universal Studio and Universal Music to French conglomerate Vivendi in 2001. Enough to ante up $2.6 billion to do so. Bronfman headed the recent acquisition of Warner Music, bumping EMI out of the way in the process. He had tried to buy back the combined Vivendi Universal, but lost out to GE. It will be interesting to watch Bronfman's progress in the troubled music biz. Does he know something the rest of us don't?

3 David Droga, Worldwide creative director, Publicis Worldwide

Droga is Maurice Levy's best hope of building favored network Publicis into a global powerhouse. Besides vast talent and motivational skills honed at more-creative Saatchi & Saatchi, the young Aussie has a blank check to pursue the hottest creatives. Yet he's challenged to bring in those that can win Lions with a Procter & Gamble-heavy roster. Across Manhattan, TBWA's worldwide creative director import, South African John Hunt, has a similar mandate to turn a not-quite-there network into a force level with Omnicom's DDB and BBDO.

4 Janine Bousquette, Exec VP-chief marketing and customer officer, Sears, Roebuck & Co.

The former eToys executive has turned over more new leaves at Sears than there are in its fabled catalog. Sears has gotten kudos for bringing brands such as Lands' End and KB Toys, and the marketing maven has leaned on agencies to create newer, fresher work. Her most intriguing move: Sears Grand, a mass-merchandise concept that seems to target Target. But a lot of work remains: Going into the holidays, November same-store sales were down and the retailer was heaping on discounts.

5 Brian Roberts, Comcast CEO

Atop cable colussus Comcast, Roberts controls the largest system in the country with and 22 million subscribers. His big play was the acquisition of AT&T Broadband, with the intention of tapping into the cable Internet phone arena. Comcast is also developing TiVo-style set-top boxes, putting the cable operator more firmly into the advertising space. As the Wal-Mart of cable, Roberts' Comcast is drawing rumblings from suppliers that it is wielding its power to get better deals and treatment from suppliers. Well, you would wouldn't you?

6 Finbarr O'Neill, Co-Chairman, CEO, Mitsubishi Motors North America

He led a stunning turnaround at Hyundai and has now been recruited to right Mitsubishi, which has seen sales sink 30% in recent months. He's made no secret of where he expects to begin, saying "Marketing is our No. 1 challenge." At Hyundai, O'Neill changed creative shops and unbundled media. That, as characteristically happens in these cases, has set off speculation about Mitsubishi agency Deutsch, Los Angeles. Both parties insist the relationship is solid. "We are not looking at agencies," says O'Neill.

7 Linda Wolf, Leo Burnett Worldwide chairman-CEO

The sole survivor from a team three years ago put in charge of Burnett, Wolf has outlasted, outwitted and outplayed the others. Already, Ms. Wolf has reset management in the U.S., sped up the timetable to name for a U.S. agency chief and dissolved sub-brand LB Works. She gained an ally in Publicis Groupe Chairman-CEO Maurice Levy, say insiders, who speculate her star has risen significantly in the past year for minimizing merger pains. Her first test in 2004 will be the mandatory review of the U.S. Army account.

8 Brad Blum, CEO, Burger King

Blum has yet to materialize the turnaround for the Home of the Whopper that archrival McDonald's has been able to craft in the same period. Other Texas Pacific Group-owned brands have seen rebirths in roughly 18 months, putting the heat on Mr. Blum, at the helm for a year, to show results in short order. So far, he's reworked the core menu and added a baguette line that seems fairly well-received by critics but isn't a major traffic builder. Can he make strides in the next six months?

9 Jeff Zucker, President, NBC Entertainment, News & Cable

Despite the recent "Coupling" debacle-the now-pulled sitcom was heavily touted by Zucker-this newly minted NBC chief finds himself atop the ad world. The possible successor to Chief Executive Bob Wright now needs to find who his "Friends" are. With the highest-priced program on TV heading for finale, the pressure is on to land a worthy successor. NBC has a winner in "Will & Grace," but "Frasier" is aging and its lineup needs work. How many permutations can one stand of "Law & Order"?

10 Mark B. McClellan, FDA commissioner

What's up Doc? The Food and Drug Administration commissioner is at the center of the war against obesity. The FDA's direct-to-consumer drug advertising rules are under review and its rules determining package-food marketing stand to be altered next year. The FDA is under pressure to push marketers to better publicize the relative healthiness of products, especially those aimed at kids. The new DTC guidelines are expected to change the way side effects are displayed in print ads.

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