ADVERTISING: The Cause Agency

Its annual budget could not pay the expense accounts of a Madison Avenue agency, and its roster of clients is more in the category of "Who's That?" than Who's Who. Yet Public Interest Communications, a nine-month-old, nonprofit San Francisco ad agency, is making a satisfying unconventional splash in the business of mass persuasion. PIC has successfully put well-tested formulas for selling deodorants and detergents behind a wide range of controversial or overlooked causes that range from supporting drug-treatment centers in residential neighborhoods to saving whales from extinction.

Unlike traditional cause promotions, which are often earnestly dull, signature-crammed exhortations in pamphlets,...

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