'Taking Stock' of Her Latest Job

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"Taking stock" has a whole other meaning for Denise Benou Stires. As executive vice president of global marketing and investor services at the Nasdaq stock market, she's in charge of promoting the exchange with investors, marketers and the public.

That's a tall order in this economy, but she's quick to point out the name recognition can't be beat.

"I feel like I've inherited one of the most extraordinary brands in the world," she says. "I'm not sure you could find a reasonably affluent Mongolian shopkeeper who doesn't know Nasdaq."

A battered Nasdaq
She came to Nasdaq in April 2001 as the economy slid into a recession and nearly a year after the meltdown in tech stocks battered the exchange. Before that, Ms. Benou Stires had helped launch DLJ Direct, the online brokerage now known as Harrisdirect, where she was senior vice president. Ms. Benou Stires says that though she had no experience in financial services -- her previous job had been as vice president for marketing at Swatch USA -- DLJ's management valued her brand-building experience and felt she could develop the financial skills on the job.

Under her watch, Nasdaq hired a new ad agency -- Havas' McKinney & Silver, Raleigh, N.C. -- and is set to overhaul the exchange's Web site with WPP Group's [email protected] JWT, New York.

Beyond tech stocks
It's a challenge to be the keeper of the exchange's brand after the tech bubble burst, but that's not all there is to Nasdaq, says Ms. Benou Stires. The tech stocks are only emblematic of the exchange's attraction to "category-defining" companies, whether in coffee (Starbucks Corp.) or retail (Costco).

Changing that tech-focused perception could be the biggest marketing challenge. As part of Nasdaq's test ad campaign from McKinney, some of those non-tech companies make appearances.

Costco is being featured in an upcoming spot -- but no Mongolian shopkeepers.

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