Your Sept. 16 editorial, "Tobacco faces the future," on the tobacco industry's support of a model law in North Carolina to curb youth smoking, is short-sighted. You fail to see through their smokescreen of appearing to police themselves whenever they are threatened with effective regulation.
Tobacco companies support this state law because it would have little impact on their ability to reach their primary audience-children. What is needed to reduce youth smoking is a comprehensive regulation like the FDA rule, a common-sense policy you grossly misrepresent.
By restricting the access, limiting the appeal and educating young people about the dangers of smoking, the FDA measure is the kind of effective regulation tobacco companies fear.
William D. Novelli
President, National Center
for Tobacco-Free Kids
I cannot let lie your contention that the advertising industry's best approach to turning children from cigarettes is more advertising -this time of the "Just say no" variety. This is industry greed and self-grandeur at its worst.
Our trade associations are somewhat paralyzed by the prospect of self-policing the industry. They believe with some validity that to regulate cigarette advertising is the first step in a slippery slide that will soon engulf .*.*. a variety of .*.*. products. But cigarettes are unique. Only cigarettes can kill when used according to directions.
If we are to stop cigarette smoking by kids, we must first make it less visible and less appealing to them. I agree with you that I'd rather see restrictions on cigarette advertising to children that are voluntary. But then, by all means, let's do it. Let's start a groundswell of support by everyone in the advertising industry, rank and file to CEOs, to push our trade associations and develop voluntary guidelines.
Our agency will be announcing the formation of an independent committee which will work with the National Center for Tobacco-Free Kids in Washington to build industry support for voluntary principles. We hope that your readers will respond to our efforts in overwhelming numbers.
David L. Milenthal
Chairman, HMS Partners
Key to branding
Was there any news in Erwin Ephron's Forum article (AA, Sept. 16)? I mean, words are all we haveLETTERS from Page 28
to describe the world around us, and best-of-class corporations-and the people who manage the brands for them-have always been keenly aware that customers create and determine the strength of brands.
Redundant articles like Eph-ron's only encourage academicians and consultants to scour their think tanks for new flavor-of-the-month terms to dupe marketers into calling for expensive advice.
The real key to successful branding is whether the chief executive officer leads, organizes and directs the corporate (not just marketing) culture to build value for customers every time they interact with the company or brand.
Do we need a new term for that process? How about marketing?
Ban ads? No way!
I am responding to Steven Diamond's letter (AA, Sept. 16), in which he writes: "Any economist will tell you that advertising is used to expand the market's demand beyond what would already exist" (whatever that means). "People are encouraged to consume more than they need."
This argument is out of date. I wonder where Mr. Diamond has been hiding over the last two or three decades. After all, what does a human being really need? Just three things: some form of shelter (a cave is fine), some form of covering (bear skin OK) and some kind of food (raw meat). Who really needs a radio? A TV? Books? Jewelry? A camera? Carpets? Sheets? Etc.
Mr. Diamond also writes: "Armies of unproductive laborers work feverishly to find the most effective ways to subliminally influence consumer behavior." Funny, some advertising that clearly tells consumers of a brand's benefits can't stop share erosion, but something below the level of consciousness will sell. Come on! That idea was exploded 30 years ago!
And his solution, ban all advertising! Really? How about the Ad Council's pro bono advertising? Ban that, too? Mr. Diamond needs to go back to school (if he went in the first place) to learn that the main function of advertising is to communicate persuasively a brand's benefits to a target audience in the hope of persuading them to try or buy the brand-to reach out beyond what the brand could communicate without advertising-thus increasing sales-thus enabling products and brands to lower their prices, to the immediate benefit of consumers.