What retailer would ignore a half-price offer? According to recent statistics on co-op advertising -- advertising that is paid for jointly by a manufacturer and the dealers or distributors of his products -- many merchants are doing just that. Last year, out of the $4 billion available from product manufacturers as matching funds for retail advertising, roughly $1 billion was unspent.

A retailer can easily find out what funds are available by checking with the purchase source, whether manufacturer, wholesaler, or distributor, who is required by law to make the details of co-op opportunities known to qualified retailers.

The store owner should be sure, however, that he or she knows all about the plan before running any ads. More than one merchant has placed an ad, only to find out later that the advertising medium used wasn't approved for reimbursement. Some programs, for example, do not cover newspaper ads run in local weeklies.

Source: Advertising Checking Bureau, 2 Park Ave., New York, NY 10016.