Publicis Digs Up Planning Expert

With a degree in anthropology from Southern Methodist University, Stephanie Ouyoumjian knows how to unearth things. After graduating, she participated in digs for artifacts that shed light on ancient cultures.

At Publicis Mid America in Dallas, Ouyoumjian will apply those skills toward “unearthing the triggers that get people to notice brands, engage with brands and ultimately buy brands,” according to CEO Mark Bateman, who hired the former Mullen svp as svp/strategic planning director for his shop.

Ouyoumjian, who also earned a degree in women’s studies, is known as a specialist on how women relate to products and brands. Her experience at Mullen in Winston-Salem, N.C., included a senior director post at a unit called Frank About Women, one of the country’s largest marketing-to-women communications companies.

With an Armenian surname pronounced “oo-yoom-gin,” she is sometimes known simply as “Stephanie O.” “It’s not quite as glamorous as Jackie O,” she admits.

Ouyoumjian got her first lesson in different cultures at 13, when her family moved from the San Fernando Valley to Bryan, Ark. “It put you in touch with a whole new way of life,” she says, adding that it gave her a useful understanding of middle America.

Eventually realizing the lack of job potential in anthropology, she followed a friend’s suggestion that she send her résumé to The Richards Group in Dallas, where then-principal Rod Underhill snapped her up. At Richards, Ouyoumjian found her calling as account planning coordinator.

From there she went to The Integer Group in Dallas, where she worked with clients such as MasterCard, Cingular Wireless and Sara Lee.

At Publicis, Ouyoumjian will apply her anthropological skills to brands such as BMW, Curves, Denny’s, GlaxoSmithKline and Nestlé PowerBar.

Perhaps most important, her return to Dallas means she gets to rejoin her husband, homebuilder Matt Taylor, on a full-time basis. When Ouyoumjian began her career, account planning was “about turning research into insights,” she said. “Today, it’s about turning insights into action.”