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American Standard Group VP-Marketing Bob Srenaski committed plumbing-industry heresy by running beautifully photographed ads without specific products. But the result was divine.

His lead-generation print campaign begun in 1993 by agency Carmichael Lynch represented a radical departure for American Standard. Instead of the typical "catalog" shots, the ads are conceptually driven-arresting illustrations married to unusual and unusually graphic headlines.

"We wanted something that would leave [its mark] on the adjacent page," says Mr. Srenaski, 54.

The campaign was a finalist for the best magazine campaign of 1994, as determined by Magazine Publishers of America, which annually lays a $100,000 cash outlay out for its single winner. But it's not awards that sell product, Mr. Srenaski knows.

The telling factor is whether consumers are interested enough to ask for and read the fulfillment materials (also recognized for creativity by the art directors' One Show), and buy the product.

The effort increased sales by slightly under $20 million. Mr. Srenaski reports dealers and distributors say the leads are the hottest they've ever received; each one represents a $5,100 expenditure on plumbing products, and 35% of those who call the 800 number in the ad go to see the product within 90 days.

"The advent of 800 numbers has been marvelous for us," says Mr. Srenaski. "It puts us in voice contact with our customers. Then we can find out who they are, what their intentions are-and whether our ads are working."

It appears they are.

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