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In almost any similar case, when a marketer with an image problem commits to a costly revamp, one of its first subsequent actions is to dump its old advertising and, possibly, its agency. Management wants something completely new to show it is now different, not the old product it used to be. How refreshing to see a marketer act just the opposite -- and in the process show an abiding faith in its advertising.

Motel 6 is a low-cost lodging chain and its low-key radio campaigns featuring the folksy voice of humorist Tom Bodett have become almost an advertising fixture. The Bodett campaign, 13 years old, won Motel 6 and the Richards Group agency their awards long ago -- and they were well-deserved. The entertaining ads positioned the chain perfectly.

In the early '90s, however, Motel 6 locations fell victim to incidents of crime, and the publicity about guest safety problems hurt. So Motel 6 management has spent $600 million to upgrade facilities and it's moving forward -- but not with the predictable new agency and new campaign touting the "new Motel 6."

With a gutsy marketing call that deserves admiration, Motel 6 managers instead embarked on a staged plan to continue the familiar Bodett campaign -- first with ads that touted the refurbishing and now with ads to show TV viewers with lingering doubts the nice people they could possibly meet in the room next door.

Will it work? No one can say for certain. But we'll "keep a light on" for the folks displaying such a sincere faith and belief in their brand equity -- built

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