Want to know which Web sites have caught the eye of top packaged goods marketers? For an indication, ask Maria, Puoti, Campbell Soup's director of global advertising services.
"Which sites?" the 36-year-old Puoti responds coyly when asked about the contents of her bookmark cache. "I guess Kraft, P&G and Coca-Cola." She also routinely visits the sites of competitors including Ragu and Healthy Choice.
Checking up on the competition has been part of Puoti's job for her entire 15-year career, first at Procter & Gamble and, for the past three years, at Campbell. Puoti is the Camden, N.J.-based marketer's in-house advertising consultant, weighing in on initiatives for such brands as Vlasic Pickles and Pepperidge Farm.
When Campbell decided to liven up its Web presence last year, Puoti was chosen for the job. The previous version of the campbellsoup.com site, which focused on recipes, was never promoted and pulled in a paltry 8,000 visitors a week. The new site, Campbell's Community, which launched in April "has gone way over that," she says.
A food science graduate from Cook College, N.J., Puoti had taken computer science classes but was unschooled in the intricacies of the Internet. Puoti remembers her first Internet experience, which happened only last September. "I was a little intimidated," she says. But she quickly began to search the Web for a peek at what Campbell's competitors were doing.
Then, she identified an internal difficulty: the company's two interactive agencies, True North Technologies, New York, and Group Cortex, Philadelphia, weren't working well with each other, or with Campbell. Puoti conducted a review and selected Dallas-based Internet Marketing and Creative Concepts.
Puoti and IMC2 plan to expand the company's Web presence with brand sites and expanded e-commerce capabilities. But Puoti admits she needs help, and is looking for " a senior manager that will basically become the expert on relationship marketing," focusing on interactive media.