Buying Media for Nation's Largest Advertiser

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Linda Thomas brooks decided in her early 20s to be "a doer, not a viewer." That resolve turned out to be prophetic. Since February 2000, the Chicago native has been executive vice president and managing director of General Motors Mediaworks, Warren, Mich. The unit of Interpublic Group of Cos. is dedicated to buying media for the nation's largest advertiser.

Ms. Thomas Brooks oversees GM Corp.'s magazine, Internet and out-of-home buys, working closely with her colleagues in Manhattan who handle national TV. Huge magazine stacks are piled on her credenza.

Hundreds of magazines
"We advertise in hundreds of magazines," Ms. Thomas Brooks, 39, explains. "It's my job to know what's in them," so she's constantly reading. "I have a low threshold for boredom."

And that's why she almost didn't take the negotiations director job at Mediaworks in 1994. Her concern was its magazine-only focus.

At the time, Ms. Brooks was working on all Chevrolet media at Interpublic's Campbell-Ewald in Warren.

Michael Browner, executive director of corporate advertising and marketing at GM, admired her Chevy work and says he helped persuade her to take the Mediaworks job.

"I knew she'd be terrific," Mr. Browner says. "She's a great strategist. She's a terrific negotiator and an excellent manager."

Seventh employee
Ms. Thomas Brooks joined Mediaworks as its seventh employee as a vice president about a year after it was founded. The agency's staff has grown to nearly 40, and she is proud of expanding the agency to include Internet buying and a proprietary banner-ad measurement system developed with GM. The marathon runner encourages her staff to try new things in media.

Ms. Thomas Brooks joined Campbell-Ewald in 1989 -- her first work with auto marketers. "I never thought I'd be here [in Detroit] quite this long." But, she says, Mr. Browner "really empowers us to do deals. I haven't been bored yet."

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