Long the province of late-night TV pitchmen, the money-back guarantee is showing up in the toniest places. G. T. Rapp & Co., a Seattle ad agency, now offers a guaranteed goals program. Owner Gregg Rapp meets with clients to quantify a goal, whether it's boosting a direct-mail response rate or increasing sales. If the goal goes unmet, Rapp will refund account service fees, which usually represent 25% of the ad project.

Rapp says his $1-million firm had little choice but to offer guarantees. "So many of our clients came to us with a bad taste in their mouths after working with large agencies and seeing no results." Rapp adds, "It was the only way to prove we were different."

-- Elizabeth Conlin