CONSULTANTS SHOULDN'T DECIDE; FACTS VS. FOLKLORE; AN ALTERNATIVE PLEA; BLAME BELONGS AT HOME

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In re code of ethics for consultants (AA, Sept. 26):

The purpose of an agency review is to find the most suitable agency for a particular advertiser. Most often that involves agencies that clients are not familiar with. Consultants can especially help companies less knowledgeable about the agency business. ... Consultants also provide that extra staff not always available to a company to do an adequate review of advertising agency credentials. And using a consultant can be less disruptive to the advertiser concerned with running his business.

I believe that a consultant should advise, not make decisions for the client.

I don't believe it should be their function to negotiate compensation. That should be the client's responsibility, as he is going to have to live with it. On the other hand, consultants should be able to advise the client on the different compensation systems being used between clients and agencies.

When I was doing this sort of thing, the commission system was the established way. We focused on creative and chemistry, which represent the bottom line in agency/client relations. The main financial consideration was the solvency and credit reputation of the agency, which was not too hard to establish.

Today's consultants may be used by advertisers to get a better deal. If that's prevalent, that's because many advertisers regard the agency more as a supplier than a partner.

And that's too bad. I believe that using a consultant should have the objective of finding the agency that can deliver good advertising, not advertising on the cheap.

Julian R. Sloan

Chatham, Mass.

Once something becomes published, people assume it's true and (worse) repeat it for centuries.

Horace Greeley did NOT say, "Go west, young man ..." John Babsone Soule wrote it for Indiana's Terre Haute Express and Greeley copied it.

Charles Boyer never said, "Come with me to the Casbah."

James Cagney never said, "You dirty rat!"

In the hope of stopping misinformation before it becomes folklore, I refer to your special section on direct marketing (AA, Oct. 10) where you report on a recent survey that says "Two-thirds of U.S. retailers have database marketing programs ..."

This survey was taken only with GIANT retailers (Sears, Tiffany, Saks Fifth Avenue, Macy's, J.C. Penney).

But if you're talking about all the 2 million-plus retailers in the U.S., a more accurate statement would read, "Only about 5% of retailers use direct mail on a regular basis."

For 20 years we've been talking to retailers around the world and, most recently, in seminars for American Express across the U.S., saying, "Dollar for dollar, nothing will bring you more business than direct mail."

Hopefully, some retailers are listening. And some more are doing. But never, never, never "two-thirds of U.S. retailers ..."

As Sherlock Holmes might have said, that's "elementary, my dear Watson."

But it wasn't Sherlock Holmes. It was Basil Rathbone.

Murray Raphel

Raphel Marketing

Atlantic City, N.J.

Jim Brady's maudlin article on Bubba's latest mishap ("Get the Marines out of Haiti," AA, Sept. 26) gave me a great laugh. He had to drag in poor Ross Perot to find someone to lambast. ... Bubba is a joke and together with that other great leader, Jimmy Carter, threatens to screw up the country.

Mr. Brady, rather than your pleading "Bill, come back to us," I suggest you should beg, "Bill, go home and take Jimmy with you." And, may I add, take that health genius Hillary along.

Cornelius F. Keating

New Canaan, Conn.

So Dick Mercer is an innocent ("Marbles in the Soup," AA, Oct. 17). It was his art director's idea to "prop" the soup photo. It was "artifice," not deception. It was because the country was "coming apart at the seams." Mercer is honest, he just "props"-as in, "everybody props."

It was really a conspiracy. It was the FTC's Paul Dixon, out to bag business. It was students doing a homework assignment .*.*. A cabal of "paper terrorists" and "would-be campus radicals" connected at least philosophically to those "long-haired radicals." And of course we find out that H.J. Heinz was really the puppet master behind this "tawdry matter."

C'mon, Dick. You sound like a 3-year-old who blames a fight on the other kid when you're the one who goaded him into hitting you.

Get out from behind your mahogany desk. Walk through the real world. You might find out there's a world of difference between pinning the back of a model's dress and making food look like more than it is. BBDO deliberately made Campbell's soup look richer than it was, and that's what it come down to: deliberate deception.

Bill Siegel

Copywriter

Hewlett-Packard Co.

Chelmsford, Mass.

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