AGENCIES' SALAD DAYS; TEXACO'S TRUE BRAND SHARE;NEVER HEARD OF TIM BELL?

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Dick Christian's letter (AA, March 20) expressed feelings I've experienced since leaving the agency business. I worked with Dick for many years at Marsteller and I agree that those times were, as he put it, "stimulating, challenging, rewarding and fun."

As we reminisce about the good old days when the ad agency business was both rewarding and fun, let us not forget that we were involved in a childlike world that paid artists and writers very well for doing what they loved to do without taking risks.

The agency commission system assured agency owners of healthy profits, and the payment system created substantial cash flow as media rates and ad budgets ballooned. .*.*. [But] when agency owner-founders want to retire, they have difficulty recovering fair value for goodwill, a major balance sheet component of agencies.

Those features were bound to capture the attention of money men whose focus on the bottom line is dispassionate at best and rapacious at worst. The "onslaught of furor" that client CEOs turned on now-educator Christian in response to the "Saatchi wrecking ball" could just as easily have been directed inward at their own short-sightedness. They let it happen by continuing to do business with the huge advertising conglomerates that people just like them have created.

Bruce H. Cole

President

Sandy Mountain Equities

Paradise Valley, Ariz.

I want to clarify one point in your fine article, "Texaco Star points to fun of performance" (AA, April 17).

Two large U.S. companies sell gasoline under the Texaco CleanSystem 3 brand. Star Enterprise markets Texaco gasoline in 26 states, mainly in the South, Southwest and Northeast. Texaco Refining & Marketing markets CleanSystem 3 in the West, Rockies and Northwest. Both companies are part of Texaco Inc.

To get a true U.S. market share for Texaco Clean System 3 gasoline, you must add the shares of both. The August 1994 Lundberg National survey shows Star Enterprise share at 4.4% and Texaco brand share for Texaco Refining & Marketing at 2.8%, for a total national share of 7.2%. That would put Texaco CleanSystem 3 in second place.

Kevin Kelly

Coordinator, market research

and strategic planning

Star Enterprise

Norcross, Ga.

The Forum piece in your Feb. 27 issue ("Sir Flack eyeing the Colonies") has just been brought to my attention. As an Englishman living and working in the U.S. I was amused to think that there remained one denizen of New York who still believed that anyone with the title "Sir" was automatically to the manner born.

I would judge that [author] Saul Bennett is an adherent of the rather outdated adage "no publicity is bad publicity" by writing this article. If I were a client, I would have severe doubts about his grasp on reality; to wit:

Professing as he does to be a PR professional, has he really never heard of Tim Bell? (It's a bit like an advertising executive asking, "Who's this Ogilvy guy?") Bell-and the various companies he has fronted-has certainly had a not inconsequential influence in the U.S. over the last 20 years. Maybe Mr. Bennett should get out and about more?

Is his monitoring of both business and trade media so poor that he is unaware that Bell received his knighthood a few years ago (a purely political honor, by the way, which is non-hereditary and nowhere near "royalty") solely for services to Margaret Thatcher and the Conservative Party in assisting them to hold on to power for a further few years? As far as I remember, he comes from beginnings just as humble and proletarian as Mr. Bennett's.

Robin Patrick Browne

Director of business development, Rapp Collins Worldwide

Irving, Texas

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