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Beason Gets Answers

Oct 18, 2006  •  Post A Comment

People sometimes roll their eyes at Ronnie Beason, but that doesn’t deter her from finding out things that might help her clients.
It’s a trait Ms. Beason hopes to pass on at Carat USA, where she was named executive VP and director of planning in March. In her new role she oversees Carat’s new media and multicultural groups as well as her clients, Pfizer Consumer Products and Revlon. She’s also responsible for quality control at the agency and ensuring planners have the tools they need to address their issues and those of their clients.
Back when planners did a little bit more of everything, Ms. Beason would develop her own tools.
“I did optimizers before there were optimizers. I did it manually because I’d go through the data,” she said. She misses the days when data was available on paper rather than everything coming from a computer. “I tend to be someone who likes to roll up their sleeves and see the data for myself, and see what it means and try to figure out the cause and effect of stuff,” she said.
She was also one of the first people to buy magazine space at below-rate-card prices back then, when planners helped with print and radio buying.
“I like the nerdy stuff, I like looking at the rate cards and saying, ‘Maybe I can do this,'” she said. There on the rate card she noticed a clause that said there would be remnant space in magazines that would be sold at a discount. “And so I said to my client, why don’t we try and see if every month someone doesn’t call us with a remnant. And guess what they did. It didn’t take me too long to figure out this was an easy thing because there’s always going to be someone who backed out someone who has an odd form that needs a page to fill it out.”
And once she could do that for one client, which happened to be Reynolds Metals, she figured she could do that for all of her clients, a move that didn’t sit well in the clubby world of ad sales. “Exactly,” she said. “They used to say to me, ‘You’re such a nice little girl.'”
That didn’t bother her. “I’ve always been one of those people that isn’t afraid to ask, or not afraid to look stupid if I don’t know. I’m sure people look at me lot of times and roll their eyes. But I think it gives me great insights because I’m really interested in this stuff,” she said.
It’s part of the attitude she hopes to instill in the planners at Carat.
Citing the saying that marketing is the process of elimination, Ms. Beason said she wants Carat’s planners to understand that critical choices need to be made about who the client’s target audience is and what vehicles should be used to reach them.
“I like everyone to think of it as ‘What’s your bull’s-eye,'” she said. “If you only had the money to do one thing, what would it be that you would do first? What would you do second? It’s a hard thing to do because people are afraid to make hard choices. But I think the advertisers that really do know where they’re going and how to get there and really spend the time eliminating things are really smart, because you can’t be all things to all people.”
Growing up in New Jersey, Ms. Beason wanted to be an advertising art director, but a few art classes at the University of Rhode Island convinced her to go in another direction. She took advertising courses, and her university adviser told her there were many opportunities for women in the media department.
When she interviewed with agencies, she said she wanted to work in media and got a job as an assistant planner at Young & Rubicam.
After a few years, she married a man who was in the Navy and left with him, first to Norfolk, Va., then to London. When he got out of the service, they returned to New York and she to Y&R. She worked for a barter company and a small agency before moving to J. Walter Thomson San Francisco when her husband was transferred west. She got divorced and moved back east, first working as VP of ad sales, marketing and research at USA Network, then joining Carat.
Ms. Beason spends her free time keeping an eye on her teenage boys. “Talk about rolling their eyes,” she says. She likes redoing old houses, and fixing her own. “We just finished a den” that involved installing in built-in cabinets, new windows and doors, she said. “My boyfriend is a wonderful carpenter and he’s going to make a whole new entranceway to the house.”
Who knew? For two years Ms. Beason didn’t have cable TV in her home. She canceled cable because her boys were sneaking down in the middle of the night to watch “The Man Show,” of which she didn’t approve. “Some kids have discretion and they know what to talk about at school, and other kids don’t have that filter. My kids will say something to my 89-year-old mother which will scare her to death, so it was better to pull the plug than to worry about my mother being on my back all the time about what the kids were watching,” she said. The cable was recently restored, but Ms. Beason thinks she didn’t really miss anything. “I like watching TV. I have a TV in my office. I cheat,” she said.
This article is part of TVWeek.com’s Media Planner newsletter, a weekly source of breaking news, trend articles, profiles and data about media planning edited by Senior Editor Jon Lafayette.

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