Winning New Business a Priority

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Laurie Coots has a passion for riding horses, particularly dressage, described as figure skating on horseback, where a rider goes through a series of movements and patterns in a defined area.

Apparently, those skills of concentration and repetition have paid off. Over her 13-year career with TBWA Chiat/Day, Venice, Calif., Ms. Coots estimates she has helped the shop net $850 million in new billings, including Nissan Motor Corp. USA, Eveready Battery Co.'s Energizer and Sony PlayStation.

Last year, Ms. Coots was promoted from chief operating officer of the Venice office to chief marketing officer for North America.

'Den mother' of resources
"I'm the den mother of new-business resources," says Ms. Coots, whose first job at the agency was account coordinator on Apple Computer. As she saw a number of pitches come and go, she realized no one was keeping track of ideas presented, or perhaps more importantly, who at the agency was related to important people on the client side.

"I know who everyone is related to, who they've dated, what their hobbies are," she says.

What is the secret of her -- and her agency's -- success? "We figure out who we can make magic with and who we can't," she says, filtering prospects "to make sure we don't waste time."

Secondly, TBWA only plays to win. "If we don't believe we can win, we don't play," says Ms. Coots.

Her focus for 1998: training a new horse and winning new business for the New York office.

"For me, it's meditation, a spiritual experience," she says of her passion for riding horses. Apparently, winning ad accounts falls into that category, too.

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