WASHINGTON — The American Plastics Council's high-profile ``Plastics Make It Possible'' advertising campaign picked up an award recently for the behind-the-scenes research that went into the effort.
The ads received the Advertising Research Foundation's Gold Medallion Award on April 8 in New York. The foundation said it has given the award since 1994 for outstanding market research to support an advertising campaign.
APC's research was done by McLean, Va.-based consulting firm Wirthlin Worldwide, which used in-depth interviews as a base and followed that with a telephone survey.
The initial two-hour interviews with 86 people identified what consumers see as the positive attributes of plastic, like its unbreakability in products such as football helmets and its safety in medical devices, said Bryce Bassett, a Wirthlin spokesman.
That phase was followed by an August 1992 telephone survey of 1,506 people to test the conclusions, he said.
Out of that research, Washington-based APC and its advertising firm, D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles in Detroit, developed a campaign that played up the positive aspects of plastics, Bassett said.
Wirthlin advised the company to focus on the positive.
``You will have much more success in the long run if you don't deal directly with the negative,'' he said. ``You deal only with the positive.''
The techniques are not that unusual, but the foundation looks for ads where the impact can be measured, he said.
Wirthlin's national surveys found that during the campaign, the nation's favorability rating of the plastics industry rose from ``a lukewarm 52 to a warm 65.''
The percentage of Americans who said the benefits of plastics outweigh the negatives rose to 77 percent from 63 percent, while those who say they would avoid buying plastics products dropped to 26 percent, from 37 percent, Wirthlin said.
The Gold Medallion award is not the top prize given by the foundation. The top award, the David Ogilvy Research Trophy, went to Ralston Purina Co. in St. Louis, Mo., for a dog food campaign. One other firm, Campbell's Soup Co. in Camden, N.J., won a Gold Medallion for its condensed soup campaign.