"Beyond Advertising" (AA, Aug. 3) omitted what I believe are the major reasons driving the rapid movement towards integrated communications. It is the clients' need, as most often happens, that serves as the latest catalyst.
Due to the increasing difficulty in sustaining true advantage in a company's product or service, the brand, and thus marketing, has become a key element of business strategy: Witness the ascension of "chief marketing officer."
Thus brand, and all the points of contact with that brand, has come under rigorous scrutiny. So today, clients, particularly global entities, are better organized to purchase diversified communications from a single source.
The agencies that win will be those that prove they can find holistic solutions, which deliver a more productive return on their clients' marketing investments.
Mitchell H. Kurz
Chairman, Client Services
Missed the point
Automotive Marketing Consultants Managing Partner Gordon Wangers (in "Comparative ads work," Letters to the Editor, AA, July 6) missed the point of both the Ad Age story "Survey: Comparative ads can dent car's credibility" (AA, May 4) and CNW Marketing/Research's study on comparative advertising.
Both were quite clear that comparative advertising works if it is well crafted and accurate. At no point did either suggest all comparative advertising is wrong-headed.
Mr. Wangers suggests our research only shows the "likability" of comparative ads. That simply is not the case. We specifically measured if consumers were enticed to add or remove brands from their shopping list because of specific comparative ads.
In Nissan's case, the results were clear: Few new-car intenders believed Altima compared in any way with Mercedes-Benz; the vast majority ignored the message; some went so far as to remove Altima from their shopping list. Net result: At the very least, a faulty comparison resulted in lost consideration and sales. Consumers, the study showed, learned something about the Suburban and added it to their shopping list.
We frequently recommend comparative ads. Well-grounded comparisons work. What's the measure of "well-grounded"? Mr. Wangers' "Chevy beats Ford" example is perfect. It worked because consumers would accept Ford reversing the comparison to "Ford beats Chevy." In Nissan's case, few consumers would expect Mercedes to compare one of its products to Altima.
The point is this: Just because my 15-year-old Babe Ruth team had a .593 batting average doesn't mean I can claim superiority over the Atlanta Braves with its .350 team batting average. Such comparisons are bilge few American consumers believe. Without believability, comparative advertising is just another unproductive way to spend a client's money.
Likes those `Lite' ads
In "Lite takes odd twist" (Ad Review, AA, June 29), Bob Garfield praises the recent pool of Fallon McElligott's Miller Lite spots as "uniformly brilliant and possibly the best in its category."
While I fully agree this latest round of Lite creative deserves such accolades (the "Twist" execution, in particular, is masterful for its simplicity and hilarity), I take issue with [Mr. Garfield's view] that prior examples of this campaign were not on the same level of creative excellence.
Taken by themselves, the original "Dick" spots may have seemed oddly enigmatic, yet there was an obvious method to their strategic madness. The agency's objective was clearly to generate some high-volume "noise" with this campaign . . . to intentionally go "over the top" in an effort to vie for a precious piece of the consumer's preconscious in an admittedly cluttered category. Like them or not, the early executions of this campaign did just that, and did it handsomely.
In this sense, they were as strategically brilliant as the current pool is cleverly entertaining.
Kevin C. Reilly
* In "Bristol-Myers unit to give Bozell $24 million account" (July 27, P. 1), Mead Johnson Nutritionals awarded Bozell Heathcare, New York, the assignment to promote Boost to healthcare professionals. It did not award Bozell Worldwide the entire Boost and Sustacal accounts. Also, although the company renamed Sustacal Plus as Boost Plus on the professional side, Mead Johnson said it will continue to market Sustacal Plus and the entire Sustacal retail line to consumers. * In "Motorcycle mania fuels spending" (Aug. 3, P. 12), Outside was misidentified in a list of magazines on the ad schedule for BMW of North America's new motorcycle campaign