Hill, Holliday Promotes Kaplan

17-Year Veteran to Manage Hancock, BankBoston Relationships
BOSTON–At the vortex of critical client relationships is where 17-year Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos account veteran Karen Kaplan can usually be found.
The newly named executive vice president has managed to rise above swirling client questions throughout her career. Twice during her tenure at Boston’s most high-profile shop she has returned from maternity leave to find herself on accounts headed out the door: first Reebok International and later, when she ran the design group, Hyatt and Infiniti.
For the most part, instead of being blamed for those losses, Kaplan was credited with doing the best she could in often difficult situations. Case in point: the so-named “Blacktop” Reebok campaign, which was finished only after the client had notified the shop it was moving its account. Despite the duress, that effort won the Grand Effie award in 1992 for its effectiveness.
Kaplan’s steady rise to the top of the account service ladder started in 1982, when she joined Hill, Holliday as a receptionist. Two years later, she became an assistant account executive on Wang Labs, which at the time represented approximately one-half of the shop’s revenues.
Had she set her sights on account service as a goal? “At the time,” she recounted during an interview last week, “I just wanted to be famous. I didn’t care how.”
While fame may not have found Kaplan yet, both current and former colleagues praised the unsung-hero qualities that belie her dedication and should prepare her for the central challenges that lay ahead.
Hancock, which creates a new ad campaign “once every 10 years,” will be looking for its next big idea in time for 2000. Kaplan, who since 1994 has apprenticed on Hancock under Steve Aubrey, named senior vice president Jim McGinn as her second in command on the business.
Fleet’s impending takeover of BankBoston earlier this year resulted in Hill, Holliday (agency for BankBoston) being given a project to research market positioning. While that would appear to put Hill, Holliday in the cat-bird’s seat, no one is saying.
Kaplan said she remains focused on what’s right in front of her, hoping to help influence changes that affect the entire operation. One of those goals is to reintroduce account planning, a stated goal of agency president Fred Bertino.
Her promotion was announced at the agency’s anniversary bash.