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Consumer advertising was a new concept for business-to-business marketer 3M Co. when it launched Filtrete furnace filters in 1991. But Brand Manager Dave Albers, a 12-year 3M veteran, knew he'd have to do some to make furnace filters visible in the marketplace.

"This was one of our first attempts at investing in consumer advertising for the Do-It-Yourself and Construction Markets Division," says Mr. Albers, 38, business manager-home environment products. "Consumer marketing is not really our background. Our management understands plants, equipment and capital investment .... so this is a shift."

Realizing furnace filters were a low-interest category, Mr. Albers sought high-interest advertising.

Part of the resulting campaign was a commercial from agency Martin/Williams that featured a fellow in a lab coat shaking various unlikely objects-including a fat guy with a cigar-out of a filter.

The spot, run during primetime and sports programming, caught people's attention, enough so that 3M reps in unrelated divisions frequently hear favorable comments from customers. It also won both internal recognition and ad-industry awards-not bad for an industrial giant like 3M.

That's not all, of course.

The advertising brought sales results.

"We've met or exceeded all targets we've set for the business in the first two years, and it looks like we'll do the same going into year three," says Mr. Albers, concluding: "We're very happy."

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