Car Maven Teaches Ford, Dealers to Listen

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Janet Klug has the car business in her blood. Her grandfather was a Ford dealer in Chicago.

Ms. Klug, 39, has been marketing communications manager at Ford Motor Co.'s Ford Division since June. She directs a national ad budget of more than $500 million and also oversees regional markets.

It's her job to balance the overall Ford division message with the brand managers' ideas for their vehicles. In addition, she tends to the interests of the regional dealers.

One of the first things she did in her new job was meet with the top 20 dealers from each region. As a result of the input she received there, Ms. Klug altered some national promotional campaigns and had J. Walter Thompson USA, Detroit, tailor the messages to address individual regional needs.

Her life before moving to the client side includes 13 years at Leo Burnett USA, Chicago. She worked her way up Burnett's ladder from account supervisor on the Pillsbury Co. account in 1990 to VP in '91 and account director the following year on McDonald's Corp.

"It's really not that different working on the client side," says Ms. Klug. "Now my 'clients' are my colleagues. A lot of skills you develop as an account manager work well."

Ms. Klug says her ability to listen is an important part of her job.

"I think when you listen, ideas flow," says Ms. Klug. She adds the communication between Ford, its dealers and the agency is essential to furthering the company's goal to develop creative new ways to listen to consumers, she says.

"That's always been one of my passions-to get into the hearts and heads of [consumers]."

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