In today’s world of disruption, new business growth is powered by the visionaries, inventors and game changers. Each year, She Runs It (formerly Advertising Women of New York) honors the true catalysts of innovation with the Changing the Game Awards. These are the women who are making bold moves and reinventing the rules of marketing. They’re transforming brands, remaking organizations and developing new approaches to business.For 2017, 18 women will be saluted at a special She Runs It luncheon at Gotham Hall in New York on April 19. Learn more about—and be inspired by—their groundbreaking achievements over the following pages.
(Portrait illustrations by Joel Kimmel; Icons by Guilherme Furtado, Simon Child, Anbileru Adaleru, Bastien Delmare)
Changing the way an organization is aligned to proactively meet new challenges.
Danielle J. Devine
Global Leader, Enterprise Strategy & Communication
Johnson & Johnson
When Danielle Devine joined Johnson & Johnson’s corporate communications team in 2011, the company was in need of a new way to tell its story. Its image was suffering from product recalls, and the company’s reactive communications strategy did little to bolster its reputation. Devine needed to create a new culture that viewed proactive storytelling as critical to the company’s success. She and her team created a proprietary tool to analyze which stakeholders, platforms and programs have the most impact on reputation, and then used those insights to realign marcom. She launched a state-of-the art content lab, hiring experienced journalists and producers to unlock J&J’s stories. This is crucial in today’s environment. “We communicate with an audience that is more informed, more connected, more sophisticated and more cynical than ever before,” she says. “We have to communicate in authentic, human terms, often times about issues that are complex or difficult.” The result: J&J’s reputation ranking has jumped, even garnering the top spot on Barron’s World’s Most Respected Companies list in 2016.
Taking the reins of J3, UM’s dedicated Johnson & Johnson media unit, in 2015, Eileen Kiernan faced challenges few industry executives would want to take on. Seven months earlier, J&J had taken its $1 billion NA buying account to another agency, and J3 was facing account reviews in just about every other global market. She had to make her mark quickly, and shifted the agency’s focus to an analytic planning approach, integrating data specialists into the core media team. By the end of the year, Kiernan had achieved what many thought was impossible. Without a review, she brought the NA buying account back to J3, making the case that a two-agency model was not an ideal setup for J&J. Not only that, but she led a sweep of every other J&J market up for grabs, adding 55 new markets and retaining 22, scoring an additional $1.6 billion in business.
Barri Friedman Rafferty
Partner and President
Barri Rafferty believes that her own success can be measured by how many others she’s helped succeed and thrive in their careers. She’s been a strong leader at Ketchum, encouraging an entrepreneurial mindset that has led to the creation of new offerings in sports and entertainment, digital and social media, and multicultural communications. But she also makes time to mentor others and is committed to helping women become strong leaders in the PR industry and beyond. Rafferty has not only made changes in her own organization, but she has also been a leader of Omnicom’s OmniWomen, serving as a catalyst to increase the number of women leaders throughout the network.
Dallas-based TM was hurting when Becca Weigman took it over in 2010. Its cornerstone American Airlines account was in decent shape, but everything else at the agency was foundering. It had lost key clients like Nationwide, Subaru and EDS. The outlook was bleak and morale had sunk. So Weigman had to hit the ground running to make a success out of the mess. “They didn’t have a new business department and hadn’t pitched for years. They didn’t have branding,” she recalls. “I basically had to start a whole new agency on the side of American Airlines.” The first step: Create a cultural shift, not only for business development, but also to turn TM into a place where people love to work. New offices, new leadership and a new attitude have led to new business with brands like Universal Orlando, Discover, the March of Dimes and Community Coffee. Weigman sums it up simply: “Happy people do great work.”
Changing the way a brand or product is marketed.
If you were tempted to make slow cooker chicken fajitas for dinner last night and a churro ice cream bowl for dessert—all because you saw this video on Facebook that made it all look easy and fun—then you have Ashley McCollum to thank. She’s GM of Tasty, Buzzfeed’s breakthrough food network, whose sharable videos have changed the way people cook. Tasty’s secret sauce is its laser-like focus on creating short, fast-motion videos that are optimized for Facebook’s autoplay feature. That’s why a 45-second guide to making a cheese-stuffed pizza pretzel can have over 114 million views and 2 million-plus shares.
Tasty has been a roaring success for viewers and brands alike—consider that its Butterfinger Blondie recipe drove more Google searches than the candy brand’s big game ad, and that Oster’s Jalapeno Popper Burger Recipe led to its 7-Minute Grill selling out almost immediately on Amazon and Target. And it has spawned a number of other Buzzfeed franchises like Nifty (for DIY) and Goodful (for balanced living), also under McCollum’s leadership. For McCollum, Tasty is much more than just a gimmick or format. “Tasty is ultimately a combination of talented people, sophisticated publishing systems, an incredibly powerful brand, a solid business and some of the strongest intellectual property ever built through a pure digital platform,” she says.
SVP, News Content Partnerships
Launching Courageous, Turner’s first-ever branded content studio, Michal Shapira has made a big impact on the network’s brand partnerships despite being a senior leader there for just over two years. Turner has brought its expertise in video storytelling to the world of brand journalism, working with over 50 advertisers last year to create innovative content solutions. These ranged from a VR film giving a behind-the-scenes look at Norfolk Southern to bringing together leading minds in science, technology, ethics and cyborg activism for a conference supported by video game maker Square Enix. Shapira knows the studio’s output has to meet high user expectations. “Although the studio sits on the ad sales side of the business, we’ve hired Murrow and Emmy award-winning journalists to staff it, so that we can create CNN-caliber work,” she says. “Our team knows how to get to the heart of the story.”
Other content partnerships from Shapira and her team have broken new ground in consumer engagement. Last year, Turner and CA Technologies partnered on the CNN Politics App, providing data-driven information about the election—it not only carried the software maker’s brand but also integrated their solutions. And with the current heightened interest in news and politics, brands want to be part of the cultural conversation, says Shapira. “”Marketers want to align with our
editorial content like never before.”
Managing Director and Global Co-Head of Brand and Content Strategy
It’s not always easy trying to explain what an investment bank does, but Amanda Rubin has been telling the Goldman Sachs story to the general public in a way they can understand. She and her team have taken a multi-prong approach, blending social media, infographics and advertising. Goldman’s robust social presence has included being the first financial brand to leverage Snapchat’s “Campus Stories” ad placement, and 30-second spots on Spotify were used for millennial recruiting. Innovative infographics have formed the core of a content marketing strategy using outlets like The New York Times to place native ads explaining how capital markets work, how millennials are coming of age, and where the auto industry is heading.
There’s got to be pressure being the chief brand champion of a company responsible for other people’s brands. Lauren Crampsie has helped lead the successful transformation of Ogilvy & Mather into a modern, high-quality marketer. Under her watch, the agency’s new business pitch process was reimagined, and brands like Lenovo, Mondelez Green & Black and Nationwide have joined the roster in the last year alone. She implemented O&M’s first-ever global-level marketing plan three years ago and it has been one of the most talked-about and honored networks, claiming Agency Network of the Year at Cannes, World’s Most Effective Agency Network at the 2016 EFFIEs, and 2016 Global Agency of the Year honors from Adweek.
SVP & General Manager
Quaker Foods North America
Becky Frankiewicz wants you talking about oatmeal. Since taking on the top role at PepsiCo’s Quaker Foods North America in 2014, she’s brought a refreshed sense of clarity about what the brand stands for. She started by looking back—exploring what the brand has meant for the past 100 years—and its association with purity, authenticity and wholesomeness proved to be the anchor for its refreshed identity. And then they built the conversation. Frankiewicz and her team launched gluten-free oatmeal. They pushed out on Facebook and Pinterest with new recipes. The brand’s “Bring Your Best Bowl” promotion for the next oatmeal flavor got over half a million entries. It’s the way to keep a legacy brand contemporary.
Changing the way a customer segment or target audience is approached.
EVP, Lifestyle & HIspanic Advertising Sales Group
What’s the real value of the connection consumers have with brands? For last year’s upfronts, NBCUniversal’s Lifestyle group—which includes Bravo, E!, Esquire, Oxygen and Sprout—wanted to quantify the chemistry between viewers, the networks and the brands that advertise there. So Laura Molen, EVP of advertising sales, and her team showed them the love, in the form of a unique study called LoveQuotient, which uses an algorithm similar to one used by online dating sites to measure viewer attraction to brands. The result? They were able to prove that their audience of engaged, social consumers provided retailers with an ROI of $15 for every dollar spent on the networks, vastly outperforming a dozen competitive cable channels. Moreover, viewers were more engaged with the content, more engaged with advertisers’ brands and more likely to share and recommend the brands they saw on the network. That methodology proved so effective that it is now being rolled out for NBCUniversal’s Hispanic networks, which became part of Molen’s sales portfolio last year. “We know that marketers want to see facts,” she says, “and that’s what we’re providing.”
SVP, Search Marketing, Paid Social & Performance Media, NY/ATL Media Capability Lead
An expert in digital marketing and planning, Shreya Kushari has transformed how DigitasLBi approaches the seemingly unfashionable practice of search marketing. Aware that there is enormous value in search data, she has implemented a futuristic approach that leverages those insights to plan, buy and predict digital content responsiveness—after all, a person’s search behavior says a lot about their purchasing habits. By being first-to-market with a comprehensive search planning process with a performance media guarantee, the agency has been able to create highly targeted digital content and strategy for clients. More importantly, clients have seen results from tying search marketing to their digital acquisition strategies, often reducing their costs while increasing their sales. Kushari is also an avid mentor and supporter of women in advertising. She was a senior leader behind Women@Digitas, the agency initiative to attract, develop and retain the best female talent.
Formerly Head of Multicultural
Multicultural is on the map at Google, thanks in large part to Paulita David. After joining the multicultural team in 2015, she changed how the company addresses this market. One of the biggest shifts was adding to Google’s multicultural charter—when David began in the role, the team had only a U.S. Hispanic focus, so she got support from executive leadership to include other segments including African American, Asian American and LGBT. She also doubled the size of the multicultural team in 18 months. And it was not simply advocacy—she rolled out a global sales initiative that enabled clients to receive translation support on Google platforms, overcoming a major barrier to multicultural digital activation.
CEO, Havas PR North America
Marian Salzman wrote the book on the changing face of PR. Literally. “Agile PR, Expert Messaging in a Hyper-Connected, Always-On World” came out at the beginning of this year. In it, she looks at how agencies need to transform their strategies and cultures to be more effective and nimble. That’s how she’s run Havas PR since 2009. Consider just a couple of the trends she’s recently backed up with action. Believing that “localism” is crucial, Havas PR opened offices in Phoenix and Providence, R.I., spurring seven figures worth of incremental revenue by entering markets where there wasn’t massive competition. Having done thoughtful work on climate change, Salzman launched Havas PR’s climate practice group to offer strategic consulting, communications advice and campaign mobilization on this very important issue. It has led to impactful work for a number of groups including Bloomberg Philanthropies and, most meaningfully, the United Nations Foundation.
Creating whole new business models, industries, or marketplace opportunities.
CEO & President
DoSomething.org and TMI Strategy
Fresh out of college, Aria Finger took an entry-level job at a small startup with the grand ambition to change the way young people give back to their communities. Eleven years later, that organization—DoSomething.org—is the embodiment of the value today’s youth places doing good. With more than 5.5 million members in 131 countries, DoSomething.org activates young people to take action on a wide range of causes from global warming to homelessness to discrimination to police brutality and much more. And Finger, who has risen through its ranks to become CEO, has shown that brand, scale and impact will go a long way to fighting for justice.
Finger is also responsible for the launch of TMI, DoSomething.org’s in-house agency that helps blue-chip clients keep a finger on the pulse of the movements, platforms and influencers that make meaningful connections with young people. TMI is pretty much a first-of-its-kind strategy group for a non-profit, using insights derived from the data it has about young people and the causes they support. Brands like Microsoft, J&J, Feeding America, the Malala Fund and ESPN use the data to reach young people and create social impact. Moreover, DoSomething.org now has a fast-growing revenue stream to ensure it can help its members create change around important social causes.
Chief Data Scientist
There’s been a great deal of talk about “women in tech,” but maybe that’s not the conversation we should be having. Perhaps it’s time to shift the discussion to be about “leaders in tech who are women.” And Catherine Williams, as chief data scientist for ad-tech leader AppNexus, embodies that issue, not only as a tech leader who is a woman, but also as someone dedicated to building a pipeline of women to succeed in tech. With a Ph.D. in Math from University of Washington and post-doctoral work at Stanford and Columbia, Williams eschewed academia and hasn’t looked back. Today, she oversees the core logic of many of the critical algorithmic components of the AppNexus system. Not only has she transformed the company’s data science team, growing it by almost 10x, but she’s also built a team that is 48 percent female.
Williams’ dedication to raising the profile of women in tech takes many forms. She’s been a leader of the AppNexus Women’s Network since it had just 10 members; today it has 125—both female and male—across the company’s international offices. She has also been an ardent champion of Girls Who Code, which has shared office space with AppNexus since its founding. Starting in 2014, she has held a “fireside career chat” with participants in the Girls Who Code summer immersion program, a model for the next generation of tech leaders.
Steph Korey & Jen Rubio
The Internet economy is full of successful, disruptive brands that have been able to take something that people take for granted— glasses, mattresses, razors, apparel—and demonstrate how a direct-to-consumer sale can deliver a superior product at a better price. That’s the model for Away, launched by Steph Korey and Jen Rubio just two years ago, which is taking on the needs of the modern traveler. Step one: develop a carry-on bag that’s functional, sturdy, cool and actually affordable.
Away was really born from necessity. Rubio had called Korey, her friend and former colleague (they worked together at Warby Parker) for advice on a replacement suitcase. Nobody Rubio had spoken to could recommend something—the options were either to buy something cheap that would break again or invest in a bag that would cost more than the vacation. They jumped on the market opportunity. Away suitcases have an impenetrable shell, USB ports that can charge devices, interior systems to maximize space and wheels that roll smoothly. It’s a formula that’s working. First year sales were over $10 million. They’ve introduced a line of checked bags. There’s now an Away store in New York’s Soho neighborhood, with holiday pop-ups in London, LA and Berlin. And Korey and Rubio have bigger ambitions: Luggage is just the first part of creating a brand that is really about making travel more seamless.
Founder & CEO
Every time you hear about a media company dedicated to telling stories “by women,” it is usually accompanied by the words “for women.” And that’s a model that Thalia Mavros finds frustrating. Maybe that’s why The Front, the digital platform she’s launched to showcase cutting-edge female voices in documentary film and entertainment, goes by the tagline: “By women, for the world.” It’s a position that relates to the backstory of its name: The Front is derived from the Riot Grrl group Bikini Kill’s call for girls in its audience to not stand in the back or against the walls and come up to the front, and for the men moshing up there to make room and support equal space at the front for everyone.
Mavros helped define youth media during seven years at VICE, where she was executive creative director at the time the brand moved beyond publishing and into online video and branded content. Mavros sees The Front as a way to change the narrative for content about issues such as gender equality, LGBTQ, racial equality and giving a voice to the under-represented. Speaking to millennials, the stories are in line with the audience’s values—challenging, aspirational, humorous and impactful—told in a multichannel approach. With films like New Deep South—which features the stories of queer kids in the South—The Front truly breaks conventions.