AAF Debuts Print Campaign

The American Advertising Federation wants corporate CEOs to consider advertising as critical to boosting the bottom line. To drive home this point, it’s launching a two-year print-ad campaign this week.

Getting this far hasn’t been easy. The AAF first said more than a year ago that Minneapolis-based Carmichael Lynch would handle the pro bono account. The plan was to seek companies willing to lend their logos to a print campaign promoting the value of brand advertising. It took six months before Sunkist agreed, and then Coca-Cola and Energizer came on board.

“We tried to go after successful brands that people associate with advertising,” said John Colasanti, president of Carmichael Lynch. “It was hard at first.”

In one ad that depicts the Coca-Cola logo, the word “advertising” replaces the name of the well-known soft drink and is followed by the tagline, “Advertising: the way great brands get to be great brands.” The ads will appear in Adweek, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and Fast Company, among others. The work represents the equivalent of about $10 million in donated media.

AAF president Wally Snyder said he hopes the campaign will generate enough buzz so other media will agree to donate space. Efforts are also under way to place the work’s tagline where CEOs are likely to notice it: on napkins in airports, for instance, or on valet tickets at restaurants and golf courses.

“We want CEOs to understand that advertising is a broad discipline that not only pushes sales in the short term, but builds the brand in the long run,” Snyder said.

Colasanti said it was a challenge to devise a campaign advertising his own profession. “Advertising does come under attack, but we wanted to convince people that it is a valuable discipline,” he said.

The campaign grew out of an AAF survey of top CEOs intended to determine their attitudes toward advertising. The survey found that top executives did not respect advertising as a strategic tool vital to a company’s success. Too often, ad budgets are the first to be cut to contain costs.

“It appeared that advertising is more a necessary evil than something [CEOs] should relish and get behind,” Colasanti said, stressing the need to convey the importance of advertising. Chris Casaburi