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From coupons to commercials: This year's nominees for the David Ogilvy Research Awards reach out to consumers by any means necessary.

Perhaps the best indication yet that advertising researchers are expanding their horizons came last December in Chicago, at a two-day workshop on loyalty marketing and frequent-shopper programs sponsored by the Advertising Research Foundation. There were no sessions on measuring the effectiveness of a 15-second versus a 30-second spot. No one even mentioned copy testing. In fact, the sole point of the conference was to talk data - to show researchers how to mine their databases deeper in order to understand their customers better, and then give them what they need.

The big buzz in the business these days is that it's no longer enough for advertising research to provide the building blocks for clever ad campaigns and the right media buys. As several of this year's finalists and semifinalists in the ARF's David Ogilvy Research Awards show, ad research is being used to create everything from infomercials to in-store promotions - whatever it takes to add value to the total campaign by getting messages about products and services to the customers who matter.

"Whatever our message is, it's not just on TV - it's everywhere," says Jodi Oughton-Schmidt, director of consumer insights and strategy for the cheese division at Kraft Foods. For the Kraft Singles campaign, an Ogilvy Award finalist this year, Oughton-Schmidt and her team helped develop in-store displays that carried the same theme as the TV commercial, touting the health benefits of cheese for kids.

It was market research that prompted semifinalist Chevrolet to run an infomercial to introduce the Silverado, its new full-size pickup truck. Thousands of potential Silverado buyers called a toll-free number to request more information and Chevy obliged - and developed a massive database to boot. "Research can refine all of these marketing messages," says Don E. Schultz, professor of integrated marketing at Northwestern University. "Traditional media has become so cluttered that companies realize they have to find other ways to reach customers."

Of course, none of these integrated solutions mean much if you can't prove they're worth the money. But thanks to sophisticated marketing mix models, researchers can now tease out which campaign elements a coupon clipped from the Sunday paper, a promotion printed on the box top, a commercial aired during the six o'clock news - actually work.

The ARF wants to know all about what works. For Ogilvy 2001, the organization plans to encourage applicants to detail how research influenced not only the advertising campaign but other marketing components as well. Looking for hints on how it's done? Read on and learn from this year's crop of winners.

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