Miller Time for Ford

Jan 17, 2007  •  Post A Comment

Life has been pretty busy for Katie Ford since she took over as director of the Miller beer account at Starcom USA.
The agency retained the client after a competitive review nine months ago. During the pitch, the agency made promises it said it would make good on, some within 30 days, some at 60 days, some at 90 days and some at 120 days.
“It’s gone really quickly to be honest,” said Ms. Ford, a senior VP at Starcom.
One of the things on the list was for the media agency to improve collaboration with creative agencies. Miller works with a lengthy list of agencies and wanted media and message to move in lockstep.
That’s working out well for Miller Lite. Agency Crispin Porter developed the “Man Laws” campaign for the beer brand and Starcom helped make it ubiquitous, with deals with ESPN, Sports Illustrated and FHM that encouraged feedback from viewers and readers who could suggest and discuss their own man laws, just like Burt Reynolds, Jerome Bettis and the rest of the gang do in the TV commercials.
Meshing the message and the media “has really come to life” with the Miller Lite campaign, she said. “It’s really come into the vernacular and seeded in to pop culture.”
Ms. Ford recently met with Miller executives and they seemed to be pleased with the agency’s ability to deliver on its promises. “We’re actually now into a really nice space of delivering on all the things we promised and focusing on the business,” she said.
Working with Miler has also been good for Ms. Ford in other ways.
For a chunk of her career, she’s handled international business, which required a great deal of travel and generated lots of frequent-flier miles. Most recently, she lived in Manhattan, where she was group strategy director for Starcom MediaVest Group’s Coca-Cola North America account.
Now, as the mother of a 1½-year-old son, Charlie, she’s close to home and family in Arlington Heights, the Chicago suburb where she grew up. And her client is within driving distance in Milwaukee. “It was perfect the way it worked out,” she said.
Even more perfect is that she and her husband have restored a lake house in Lauderdale Lakes, Wis., which is very convenient. “I get to do a stop off in the summertime,” she said.
Home improvement is something Ms. Ford and her husband enjoy doing. They painted, replaced the floors and built a new deck at the lake house. “I’ve got to give credit to my husband. He is definitely handier than I am.” They also enjoy boating, cycling and antiquing.
Though doing a bit of homesteading now, Ms. Ford has an international bent that she came by naturally. She was born the youngest of four children in Düsseldorf, Germany, while her father was working for an oil company there. She was only two years old when her family moved to Illinois, so she doesn’t have many childhood memories of Europe. Nevertheless, she’s convinced that an interest in travel was seeded in her blood.
She minored in French at the University of Dayton and spent her junior year studying at La Sorbonne in Paris. Despite being a francophone, she became fluent in Spanish during an assignment running the Coca-Cola business in Mexico and living in Mexico City and later overseeing Coke all over Latin America. “I’m proud to say my Spanish is now better than my French,” she said.
Who Knew: Ms. Ford was trailed by the KGB during a trip to the Soviet Union while she was in high school. Around the time of the Regan-Gorbachev summit in Moscow, she took part in a “People to People” ambassador program in which a group of students from Chicago’s northwest suburbs took a nine-country European tour. The kids brought Levis jeans to trade with Russian kids, mostly for fur hats and propaganda posters. But it turned out that an English-speaking man–posing as a traveling hairdresser, of all things–was keeping an eye on them. Some members of the group were taken aside and told not make trades any more. The trading promptly stopped, she recalled. “I haven’t been back since, but I would love to. It’s changed tremendously,” 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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