Bay area’s tough, honest innovator

Feb 11, 2002  •  Post A Comment

Lisa Cragoe exudes confidence. She is sharp, direct and articulate. And perhaps most important for the TV station buyers she deals with, Ms. Cragoe lays all her cards on the table.
Even though she is a tough negotiator, they know she’s fair and honest, and that’s why she has earned the respect of her colleagues.
“At the end of the day when you put everything on the table, you want to help her accomplish her goals and go out of the way to do it,” said Tom Raponi, VP and general manager of KICU-TV and director of sales for KTVU-TV and KICU-TV in San Francisco, a local market bought by Ms. Cragoe, senior media buyer for the Texas advertising agency GSD&M.
“On the other side, [she’s] very challenging to negotiate with, Mr. Raponi said. “She is very knowledgeable. There aren’t many chinks in her armor. … She is a student of the marketplace.”
The whole picture
Clutter and fragmentation have become buzzwords in advertising, but they are exactly what Ms. Cragoe, 38, deals with every day. Take San Francisco-the marketplace is extremely fragmented, but that suits Ms. Cragoe just fine. Devoted to analysis and information, she pores over ratings, data and statistics before she makes a buy. Having lived for nearly nine years in San Francisco, where she launched her career in advertising with Young & Rubicam, she feels she has a pulse on the market and a sense of the bigger picture.
“It’s part guesstimate, it’s part fact, it’s part a gut feeling you have from a show that’s been on,” said Ms. Cragoe. She uses data that is both qualitative and quantitative. “When you are in the midst of it all, there is a rhyme and a reason,” she said.
Karen Orofino, general sales manager for KRON-TV in San Francisco, believes that Ms. Cragoe sees both the forest and the trees.
“She’s not always looking at buying ratings points. My sense is that once she put things down on paper she sits back and looks at it. She wants a picture that makes sense and doesn’t just reach point goals,” she said, adding that Ms. Cragoe is a perfectionist as well.
A former NBC affiliate, KRON is now an independent station that doesn’t air network shows during prime-time. Instead, it occasionally offers documentaries it produces on the Bay area. Yet, a prime-time environment more akin to public television hasn’t swayed Ms. Cragoe from continuing to buy spots for her clients on KRON.
Ms. Orofino said Ms. Cragoe’s ability to purchase ads in genres unlike what she’s buying on the other local stations at the same time is “out-of-the box” thinking. The documentaries are done in a Ken Burns-style, and when a local San Francisco business paper likened SBC Communications’ December ads to the documentarian’s approach, Ms. Orofino contacted Ms. Cragoe about getting SBC into the shows. “She’s been willing to push the envelope and get that incorporated and sold to the client because she thinks it’s a good place for them to be. What [SBC’s] spots look like is what our programming looks like,” said Ms. Orofino.
Ms. Cragoe might not be the easiest person to work with, said both Ms. Orofino and Mr. Raponi, but that’s only because she’s a tough negotiator.
The soft market in San Francisco over the past year hasn’t changed her approach. In fact, the economic climate has made the market less competitive than in years past.
“If I negotiate hard, I can pretty much get the cost per point desired. I believe at this point, due to the soft market, clients and agencies in general all want more for their dollar,” she said.
That seems to be fine with the stations. “She really is a pleasure to work with because of her professionalism and knowledge,” said Mr. Raponi.
SBC is Ms. Cragoe’s primary account, but she also works on Land Rover, Wal-Mart, MasterCard, Chili’s and Kinko’s.
SBC, in fact, was the account that brought Ms. Cragoe, a native of Long Island, N.Y., to GSD&M’s home office in Austin, Texas. She had free-lanced for the agency from her Boulder, Colo., home for about a week on that account in 1998. A few weeks later, the company asked her to to become a full-time employee, though she could continue to work from home.
Family first
“When you find the talent that knows how to take care of your clients’ business, you go to them if they can’t come to you,” said Yolanda Aquino, broadcast buying director for the agency. “Lisa is the ultimate in what you would want in a buyer-she is a knowledgeable marketer and client advocate. She knows the planning process behind the buy specs, understands the competitive environment within each of her markets, knows our clients’ business inside and out and has strong client relationships. She places high expectations on herself, and that carries over to her expectations of the stations.”
Ms. Cragoe, whose San Francisco coverage includes San Jose, also buys for Wal-Mart and SBC in the Monterey/Salinas, Calif., market.
When Ms. Cragoe’s husband’s job took him to Houston in 2000, she established her home office there. Being able to work at home has been a privilege, Ms. Cragoe said, adding that it has instilled in her a huge sense of loyalty to the company.
Before she joined GSD&M, Ms. Cragoe worked at Grey Advertising in New York in the mid-’90s for about a year and then spent the better part of her eldest son’s first five years as a stay-at-home mom. She now has two sons, ages 10 and 2. Though she works at home, she tries to make a distinct separation between business and home life. “I am very much a mom. I really treasure the time with my family first and foremost,” she said.