Using New Methods to Engage Consumers Completely

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4 of 25 > GO TO Next 2004 Woman to Watch

Esther Franklin saw the light in a Las Vegas casino two years ago, and it wasn't a glowing gumball on top of a slot machine.

Esther Franklin, senior vice president and director, Consumer Contact Planning, Starcom Worldwide.

She was an account planner then at Leo Burnett USA, attending an annual conference of account planners. Rishad Tobaccowala, executive vice president at Publicis Groupe's Starcom MediaVest Group, Chicago, Burnett's media agency sibling, was a guest speaker. He talked about the rise of media planning and how media agencies were starting to work with account planners. Ms. Franklin was impressed.

'The gray murk'
"This was uncharted territory," says Ms. Franklin, now senior vice president and director of Consumer Context Planning, a unit of Starcom USA. "One thing that I get excited about is the gray murk -- you know, not knowing exactly what you can do but figuring it out. I don't like things easy."

In the ad industry, there's probably no discipline less "easy" than account planning. Ms. Franklin, 46, spent most of her 10-year Burnett career working on Philip Morris Cos. brands as vice president and planning director for Marlboro USA. She helped develop LeoShe, Burnett's female consumer insight practice.

She recently helped create a campaign for Kellogg Co.'s Special K that tapped into women's self-perception. "Women come in all sizes and shapes, and what we were trying to get across is that one's identity is based on one's self-perception," Mr. Franklin says. "You can be beautiful at any size."

U.S. Army 'branded entertainment'
Ms. Franklin's most high-profile work was on the U.S. Army's recent sponsorship of a History Channel airing of Steven Spielberg's Band of Brothers series. Consumer Context Planning worked with Starcom Entertainment Group, contributing insight that helped shape a highly original "branded entertainment" campaign consisting of a 22-minute film that introduced the series and featured real-life soldiers commenting on the movie. The film was then broken out into smaller vignettes that aired during the show like ads.

Ms. Franklin says her team learned that career soldiers today still greatly admire World War II vets. "Based on that insight, we started putting together a package with Starcom Entertainment," she says. "We were not interested in traditional advertising, just buying media around the program. What we did was reconfigure it, creating a link between the current Army experience and the past. This kind of approach allowed us to engage consumers completely."

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