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Shops Innovate to Survive Tough Times

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LOS ANGELES When independent Knoodle finally conceded this summer that the Phoenix ad market wasn't going to rise from the ashes, it fashioned a unique pay-for-play scheme to rekindle its spirits and ignite its creative drive.

At the time, an agency client, the Arizona Kidney Foundation, was attempting an ambitious educational project but had become stalled.

"They were looking for a campaign, and we were in a downtime, in a unique position where we had time and manpower," said Rosaria Glasco-Cain, CEO and media director at Knoodle.

Agency creatives were smitten with an AKF campaign they had been working on for months and "wanted to see it through for the client. To let it not happen as a result of a bad economy was unacceptable, so we jump-started the campaign," she said.

The agency wrote the foundation a check for $90,000 -- the largest single contribution in the AKF's history -- under the express condition that it would use its matching-funds program to buy the shop's $200,000, three-spot campaign.

The spots started running as PSAs, and now the foundation is raising money to support a paid-media push. "Knoodle came to convince us over time that this type of campaign would grab attention with today's modern audience," said AKF CEO Jeffrey Neff. He said the board enthusiastically backed the campaign and would follow it with a PR blitz.

Elsewhere in the country, scrappy agencies are using moxie to drive business in a down economy.

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