CHILKO SURVIVOR OBJECTS; OMEGA GROUP SAYS THANKS; LIKES MIKE, TOO; ABOUT SUPER BOWL AD RECALL; PSAS: MORE HARM THAN GOOD?

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I read with great interest your article about the 1987 Chilko River rafting accident and the forthcoming HBO picture, "White Mile" (AA, March 7). ... Your coverage of this story and subsequent legal proceedings has been, in my opinion, extremely slanted and one-sided. Your "White Mile" article is another example of that.

I was on the Chilko raft trip and survived that accident. And it was that, an accident. It had absolutely nothing to do with "the morality issues of accountability and coercion." For Ad Age to quote such baseless pontification from Dick Berg [executive producer] without talking to any of the survivors is certainly not balanced journalism.

As you correctly pointed out, neither Mr. Berg nor the screenwriter contacted Al Wolfe [former president of DDB Needham, whose Chicago office organized the trip], nor, for that matter, any of the other survivors. Yet Ad Age reports that Mr. Berg drew heavily on Mr. Wolfe's "real personality." Mr. Berg doesn't know what he is talking about and Ad Age is printing it. What kind of reporting is this?

I have known Al Wolfe for 24 years. He is a straightforward, thoughtful gentleman, an excellent business leader and as honest a man as I've met in business. Over the years, I had been on rafting and fishing trips with a number of the guys on the Chilko trip as well as with Al Wolfe. Let me assure both you and Mr. Berg this trip was not about coercion or ambition or responsibility. No one was forced to go on the Chilko trip. There was no business pressure, no peer pressure, nor any other kind of pressure. Everyone looked forward to that trip. I know, I was there.

Joseph F. Morrison

Morrison Entertainment Group

Manhattan Beach, Calif.

The two articles on Chevrolet on the front page of your March 21 issue superbly captured the essence of the research and consulting work conducted by our firm to help position Chevrolet both within the organization and in the marketplace.

The bottom line, as quoted in the article, is "to have integrity both internally and externally." ... We applaud the excellent reporting, which from our perspective, having worked with the Chevy and Lintas team, provides an astute grasp of the underlying principles supporting the repositioning and a valuable historic and cultural perspective.

We appreciate it when clients give us credit for our work. However, please note that our firm's name is Omega Group Inc., Haverford, Pa., rather than Omega Research, Philadelphia, as identified in the article.

Renee M. Love

Chairman, Omega Group

Haverford, Pa.

I totally agree with Rance Crain's column regarding Michael Jordan and Major League Baseball ("Baseball to learn to `Be like Mike,"' AA, Feb. 28). We produced a magazine solely devoted to Michael Jordan and spring training, which went on sale in March.

Harvey Wasserman

President

ADS Publisher Services

Northbrook, Ill.

I feel it is necessary to set the record straight regarding a letter by Eddie Spizel in the Feb. 14 issue of Advertising Age.

In his letter, Mr. Spizel cites me in a way which could appear to support his theory that Super Bowl advertisements were "losers." His reference to a day-after recall rate of 2.99 is correct, but taken out of context from research conducted by Mark Pavelchak of the University of Redlands, myself and James Munch from the University of Texas at Arlington.

First, the figure quoted was not for the 1993 Super Bowl, as reported by Mr. Spizel, but from an earlier Super Bowl. But most important is that this was a very strict measure of unaided recall that involved correct identification of the company, brand and an accurate description of the ad. In addition, the recall score was corrected downward for any incorrect reports (to correct for guessing). Aided recall measures for this broadcast are typically in the range of 60%.

It should be noted that I have been widely quoted as a strong advocate of sponsoring Super Bowl ads-if it is done correctly. While there have been poor ads and sponsors wasting their dollars on this expensive broadcast, there have also been many companies that, in my opinion, have very wisely used the Super Bowl to enhance their communications efforts.

John H. Antil

Associate professor

University of Delaware

Newark, Del.

Ruth Wooden makes a reasonable defense of public service advertising in her editorial "PSAs can make a difference, but it takes time" (AA, March 14). There have certainly been many engaging campaigns over the years. Smoky Bear was as regular a feature of my childhood as Mickey Mouse, and I can remember being moved by the solitary tear shed by the Indian watching pollution ravage nature. No group has been more prolific or memorable than the Partnership for a Drug Free America; everyone knows "... this is your brain on drugs."

Unfortunately, there is no evidence that these campaigns have had any effect, other than populating our cultural landscape with memorable images and characters. Worse still, public service advertising may be doing more harm than good if it gives us the illusion that serious and complicated problems are being addressed.

Drug use is the best example. Currently, alcohol is America's No. 1 drug problem, costing society more than $85 billion in economic costs and untold pain and suffering. It is even our biggest illegal problem when you consider underage drinking. The evidence indicates that the most effective way to reduce death and disease from alcohol, particularly among youth, is to raise the price. I venture we will never see a public service campaign calling for an increase in excise taxes for alcohol. Certainly not when the brewers are among the advertising industry's biggest supporters.

Public service advertising does more harm than good when it keeps the public mind on the least effective strategies for dealing with problems that require not just personal behavior change but also social change. It is a rare public interest campaign that has benefited people outside the advertising industry.

Lori Dorfman

Associate director

Berkeley Media Studies Group

Berkeley, Calif.

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