STARCOM EXEC WANTS CLIENTS TO UNDERSTAND CREATIVE PLACEMENT -- MARY ANN FOXLEY

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Just when you think it's all been done, somebody comes up with something out of the box, and things become fun again," says Mary Ann Foxley, exec VP-chief print investment officer for Starcom Worldwide, Chicago. "You're limited only by your imagination."

In an era when media planning and strategy have been pushed to priority status, she advises: The most creative thing about advertising is not coming up with the ads. Think placement.

Ms. Foxley, 44, speaks enthusiastically about the opportunities -- commuter-train fare cards; tugboats; light displays beaming onto night-time sidewalks; and on the tops of buildings so they can be seen by airline passengers flying overhead.

STARCOM EXPANDS

Ms. Foxley has helped Starcom develop into the No. 1 print media agency, with $935.9 million in magazine billings and $83.6 million for newspapers. In 1998, billings nearly doubled over the previous year, and the division is on target to beat that record. She says the spending increases don't mean clients are playing fast and loose with their ad-dollar investments.

"Accountability. Investment has never been as highly regarded and scrutinized as today," she says.

She's known for innovative style and yet Ms. Foxley -- with 22 years in the business -- says her ego is too fragile to work on the creative side.

According to Jack Sullivan, VP-media director/outdoor for Starcom, Ms. Foxley has a multitude of ideas, especially when it comes to developing new ways to plan, promote and place products.

"She may not have the end answer, but she certainly pushes me in different directions than I may not have gone before," he says. "She has the experience; she's seen and done it all. She's a great sounding board. She . . . makes the light bulbs go off."

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