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Sheila Field isn't taking all the credit for turning Macy's West into the $3.7 billion retailing powerhouse it was in 1996. But as VP-marketing, her negotiation through the tricky marketing waters smoothed the retailer's launch into the lucrative Southern California market.

Macy's western division, with 105 stores in six states, was long a Northern California stronghold with a more upscale image than its East Coast sibling. When Federated Department Stores moved south, it did so through its lower-end Broadway and upper-end Bullocks stores, almost tripling the number of stores in their group within one year.

Ms. Field's marketing task was complicated by the introduction, at the same time, of five Bloomingdale's stores. Through research, she found that Southern Californians' knowledge of Macy's came only from the Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City. But she also realized that Southern California shoppers had tired of Nordstrom's and were looking for a better shopping experience.

The result was a new tagline-"Macy's: Everything you love about shopping"-combined with an innovative TV campaign from Citron Haligman Bedecarre, San Francisco, featuring humor to promote sales and special events, and other efforts from Macy's in-house team.

One thing Ms. Field, 36, has learned, however, is that moving into a creative position from an account director job at another retailer isn't that easy-especially when it involves a marketing organization such as Macy's, said to have the billings equivalent of $200 million.

"Managing a creative staff requires a different style than managing business people," she says.

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