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NEW YORK-AT&T, seeking to fortify its image among 18-to-34-year-olds, enlisted the help of N W Ayer to find a new way to reach out and touch them.

What they found ultimately led to the creation of a corporate TV campaign, themed "You will," that last week won the Advertising Research Foundation's first David Ogilvy Award, recognizing the role research plays in advertising development.

"It's absolutely vital," said Mr. Ogilvy, the retired founder of Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide. "God knows how you do [advertising] without it. Otherwise you're just guessing. I'm pleased to be identified with this move back to creative research."

The awards come after many agencies have virtually abandoned advertising research in the face of agencies' diminished importance to their clients and tightened compensation.

But Ayer Developmental Labs, a 20-year-old agency unit, bucked the trend, crafting a positioning for the year-old campaign based on two series of focus groups around the country. The sessions covered topics ranging from AT&T's role in education and the environment to technological advances, as well as stylistic tactics like a celebrity endorser or MTV-style graphics.

Ayer's AT&T effort bested FCB/Leber Katz Partners, which took second place for Nabisco Biscuit Co.'s top-selling Oreo cookies, and J. Walter Thompson USA, Detroit, which won third place for a campaign introducing Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.'s Aquatred tires. The awards were presented at the ARF's annual conference here.

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