HEADLINER: JWT’s rule-breaking original relishes new MindShare role. It’s Janine Abrahams’ turn to be under the spotlight. Eleanor Trickett sees why

Before we even meet - though it later transpires that we once guzzled Australian rose together at a J. Walter Thompson bun fight - I hear a promising testimony to Janine Abrahams, the newly appointed marketing director of MindShare.

Before we even meet - though it later transpires that we once

guzzled Australian rose together at a J. Walter Thompson bun fight - I

hear a promising testimony to Janine Abrahams, the newly appointed

marketing director of MindShare.



’If you meet her for the first time, you’d be forgiven for thinking that

she was a copywriter,’ says Mandy Pooler, managing director of MindShare

and Abrahams’ new boss. This bodes well for a rainy Friday afternoon

when the last thing anyone wants to do is listen to credentials and look

at flow charts.



’Queen Prada’ is what they call her at J. Walter Thompson, but Abrahams

is no label-slave airhead. Just because she can get into Voyage without

faxing credentials through in triplicate, doesn’t mean she is anything

but deserving of the newly created role.



Surprisingly little has been written about Abrahams, despite her new

position in a company with the magnitude of MindShare. JWT’s senior

staff have kept a relatively low profile in the industry, due to the

fact that most of them have risen within the company’s ranks. Dominic

Proctor, chairman of MindShare and former chief executive of JWT, once

said: ’This is a company that has never built itself on stars.’



Abrahams agrees: ’JWT has never operated on the cult of personality.



It’s a very team-oriented environment, supportive and inspiring.’

Referring to Abrahams’ tenure, Pooler says: ’She’s been at JWT man and

boy - which is a great thing, as I admire loyalty - and Janine is one of

media’s real, consummate, professionals. She’s worked quickly and

brilliantly for years, and now it’s her turn to be in the

spotlight.’



So what of her reputation for being a ’creative’? ’Maybe there is an

expected kind of media person,’ Abrahams muses. ’Certainly ten to 15

years ago there was. But I’ve always thought: ’How can I do this

better?’ I bend and break the rules. Creativity should not be the

preserve of the creative department.’



Abrahams’ unconventional approach to business is coupled with a

razor-sharp planning savvy - a combination destined to put MindShare on

the map. ’From the beginning, it was very clear that the role is about

profile-raising,’ she explains.



’But delivery is of paramount importance. A business can claim to have

anything and offer anything, but you have to be able to generate

credibility. ’



It seems fitting that a new role at a new agency should be filled by an

original thinker. ’I went to Mandy with lots of ideas and plans, and we

think along very similar lines,’ Abrahams says. ’Our existing clients

are extremely important, as are our future clients - and journalists,’

she smiles, kindly. ’We have a number of target audiences. I’m trying to

define what the company is about.’



Of the role, Pooler says: ’It was a very conscious decision to have a

specific marketing director. It’s an acknowledgment that there is a job

out there in building a brand - a huge brand - in all its

manifestations, not just cold-calling. It’s a very important job, and

it’s vital to have someone in whom you feel utterly confident.’



Pooler has chosen carefully - she and Abrahams are known to get on like

a house on fire. Bill Barker, who is about to take over from Abrahams as

group media director for Nestle and has known her for 15 years, says:

’Janine and Mandy have a great rapport. They sparked off immediately and

have sloped off for very long lunches together.’



Abrahams adds: ’The chemistry with Mandy and Dominic is absolutely

right.



At first, a lot of people thought: ’Why not bring in an outsider for the

job?’ But I’ve worked with JWT for years.



’My stock-in-trade is clients -anticipating what they need, and then

satisfying that, and I’m going to feed all this into the MindShare

team.



It’s not just the planning and buying - although given the size of our

billings, it’s an important part - there’s a whole host of other facets

to the offer.’



Here, Abrahams not only refers to the enormous number of WPP-owned

companies which MindShare will have at its disposal, but to her work

ethos. ’I want to develop into areas that will stop people in their

tracks. I’m not into normal presentations, though I won’t try something

wild and wacky just for the sake of it.’



A promising beginning, then, for what could be one of the most testing

jobs of 1998, after a lacklustre year on the new-business performance

front for both JWT media and the Network. All eyes will be on Abrahams’

success in bringing in business under the new regime, but she remains

undaunted. ’The job starts here, and I’ve got to go out and become

acquainted with all of these people. I just can’t wait to get

going.’



THE ABRAHAMS FILE



1982: JWT, graduate trainee



1986: JWT, associate board director



1988: JWT, group media director 1994 JWT, group media Director,

Nestle



1997: MindShare, marketing director.



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