I see it as a smart move and one that is long overdue. As the automobile companies move closer and closer to quality parity, the big issue that our business preaches about so often, brand equity, be comes more and more important. The success of Saturn, with its well-coordinated regional program from Hal Riney, is proof that re gional/association advertising need not be at odds with dealer needs and wants.
He whose brand is most favorably regarded will get on the super market shelf of the mega-dealer and the multi-franchise showroom. Imagine the Tower of Babel that comes from having 100 different advertising agencies exercising their own version of how a brand should be perceived. Chevrolet's position is particularly difficult because of the number of nameplates that make up the brand and its image.
As one of the most venerable brands in the world, Chevrolet is struggling mightily to recover from the tough times that overcame the U.S. auto industry and General Motors in particular. Taking firm control of the brand's image through the regional/association message is vital, especially since, in many cases, that voice is louder than that which comes from the factory.
As the relationship between manufacturer and dealer changes to a more cooperative one, and since manufacturers have learned to control production so that dealer and dealer group inventory problems are minimized, automobile advertising, including regional advertising, can return to the job that it should be doing, building brand preference.
In the meantime, Lintas and Chevrolet have a major challenge ahead of them. They not only have to sell dealer groups on the fact that they can do regional work better than local agencies, but they must prove it. They must be willing to be accountable for the results. It won't be easy.
Eric Davison & Co.
Manhattan Beach, Calif.
The front and back pages of your Feb. 21 issue offer an interesting insight into the ethics and taste of your publication-and perhaps of the advertising agency business as a whole.
On the front page there is a story about cigarette advertising being, in your words, "at risk." But there is no mention of the people who smoke cigarettes being at risk of the diseases that kill 400,000 Americans a year as a result of smoking.
Ad Age continually waves the flag of free speech in regard to cigarette advertising but never addresses the morality of it. That is, whether it is moral or not for advertising agency people to create and publish advertising for a product that, when used as directed, causes disease and death.
And now about that back