Mullen Gets Frank About Women

Mullen executives at-tribute the agency’s recent new-business success in no small measure to its consulting unit, Frank About Women.

The unit, formed in March, is headed by Jennifer Ganshirt and Carrie McCament, vice presidents in the agency’s Winston-Salem, N.C., office.

“This is a huge initiative across all our offices,” including the shop’s Wenham, Mass., headquarters and its satellites in Pittsburgh and Detroit, McCament said. “It’s a logical extension of our female staff and a great way to get new clients.”

The unit has contributed in some way to virtually all of the shop’s wins this year, playing a major role in Mullen gaining the $60-75 million Wachovia account this spring over Publicis & Hal Riney, San Francisco, agency executives said.

“We were impressed that an agency understands the phenomenal growth of the women’s market and is focusing on understanding the needs, desires, complexities and opportunities of women today,” said Gigi Dixon, director of emerging markets at Wachovia.

Thus far in 2002, major wins in addition to Wachovia include Progress Energy, Foster Grant, the Department of Defense’s JRAP initiative, Nextel retail stores and technology concern PTC. Mullen is currently a contender for the AARP and MRO Software.

The unit contributes to creative strategy as well. Work for Wa-chovia, set to launch this summer, will likely reflect the client’s commitment to women as financial decision makers. The unit consulted with the creative team for client T.J. Maxx; recent spots play off women’s love for the “sport” of shopping.

The unit’s staff includes about 30 Mullen employees. Key players include group cd Beth Kosuk in Winston-Salem, senior account planner Jennifer Perkins in Pittsburgh, and svp, director of interactive brand planning Rose Cameron, svp, director of design Libby Delana and vp, director of interactive services Seana Mulcahy in Wenham.

In addition, the unit has formed an alliance with about 25 women outside of the agency, including magazine editors and publishers, designers, academics and client marketing directors.

The idea for Frank About Women originated about a year ago, growing out of the shop’s tradition of recognizing how females think and relate to brands, McCament said. Over the years, the agency has created campaigns for many brands associated with women, such as Oxygen Media, Lifetime, Hanes and Sealy.

The name arose from a poll taken across Mullen’s offices. “We wanted something with a little intrigue,” Ganshirt said, adding that at the same time, the name reflects women’s desires for an honest point of view. Marketers often missed their targets, McCament and Ganshirt said, failing to recognize diversity among women while coming up with a plan that connects them.