IQ News: Insider – Secret’s Weapon

Until a few weeks ago, you probably hadn’t heard of Nancy Kramer, even though her company, Resource Marketing, of Columbus, Ohio, had capitalized billings of $75 million in 1998. It was her brilliantly counter-intuitive Super Bowl commercial promoting the Victoria’s Secret Webcast that got her noticed. Babes in filmy underwear at the Super Bowl … so wrong and yet so right.
Resource Marketing handled strategic planning for Victoria’s Secret’s move to the Web, designed and developed the site, and hired to Webcast its fashion show.
But it was the synergy that combined all those efforts that put her on the map. “I guess I have a knack for wacky ideas,” she says. “It just popped into my head.” Of course, big ideas have more chance to pop in when you’re an 18-year veteran of technology marketing. Before Kramer launched her company in 1981, her first job was selling radio advertising for Nationwide Communications, also Columbus. When the reps for Apple Computer told her they wished they could combine all the co-op money for the region, Kramer went for it. “I was 25 years old,” she laughs. “What did I have to lose?”
Soon, she and one freelance creative were handling Apple’s co-op advertising for the whole country. Kramer had a hand in history, working on the introduction of the Macintosh and the rollout of desktop publishing, at the time a radical and hard-to-grasp concept.
She’s quick to forestall any talk of her being a visionary, though, recalling the interview she had years ago with a startup music cable channel in New York. “I came back and said to my husband, ‘I think it’s a flaky concept and the company will be out of business in a year.”‘ The spurned suitor was MTV.
Kramer is way too modest. Maybe it’s a woman thing. “I have a problem tooting my horn,” she admits. Her lengthy list of clients includes CompuServe, Macromedia and NEC. The publicity from the Victoria’s Secret work has left Kramer feeling a bit exposed. “I understand that it’s good for the business and I’m proud of it,” she says. “But I want the business to take credit for it.”
The exposure felt fine to Columbus-based Intimate Brands, which owns the lingerie company. More than 150,000 people registered before the site went live Dec. 4. Within six hours, the company had orders from 37 nations; to date, lingerie has winged its way to 91 different countries. One and a half million people watched the admittedly glitchy Webcast.
Kramer would prefer to stay out of the spotlight and concentrate on what she does best–marketing. “The fact that our company … doesn’t have any more visibility than we do is pretty unusual,” she muses. “We’re proud of that, too, though, because we’re playing by our rules and that’s kind of cool.”