Leads Non-Branded Services

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There aren't many jobs at MCI Communications Corp. that Patty Proferes hasn't tackled. In her 16-year career there, she has worked on both the business and consumer sides with titles including sales manager, regional sales and service manager, regional marketing manager, brand manager and director of marketing.

Now VP-specialty brands, which include all the non-MCI branded services, Ms. Proferes, 38, founded and manages two of the company's most successful products, 1-800-COLLECT and 10-321.

Launched in 1993, 1-800-COLLECT has grown into one of MCI's biggest success stories. And 10-321 -- a dial-around service -- was launched early last year and quickly became MCI's fastest-growing product.

Lacks sales force
Surprisingly, the company relies only upon advertising to market, promote and sell the two services. It has no sales force out selling the products. In fact, MCI spends about half of its ad budget on 1-800-COLLECT and 10-321. MCI spent $335 million on advertising in 1996, according to Competitive Media Reports.

"Often there is a debate of how much value advertising has. In this case, there's no debate," Ms. Proferes says. "When advertising is your sole sales channel, you've got just 30 seconds to get people interested. ... We treat advertising like rocket science. We dissect every move we make, every script, every media plan, every dialogue."

To that end, Ms. Proferes and her staff work very closely with MCI agency Messner Vetere Berger McNamee Schmetterer/Euro RSCG, New York.

This year, Ms. Proferes will add ethnic marketing and advertising on the 10-321 product, much as she did after the initial launch of 1-800-COLLECT. But she says her biggest challenge will be to simply surpass past performance.

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