Saying he was "angry" since the subject has been debated for the past 30 years, the VP-general manager, marketing and advertising, for North American Operations for GM, said in remarks to the American Association of Advertising Agencies' Media Conference in Anaheim, Calif., that it was becoming increasingly important to understand the total "impact," particularly in TV, of controversial programming.
"We need to know the effect of the whole picture," he said.
He noted that advertisers hear from special-interest groups in opposition, but not from people who support them for sponsoring certain controversial programming.
Mr. Guarascio said GM has advertised recently on ABC's "Nothing Sacred," the series about the life of a Catholic priest and the difficulties he faces.
To emphasize his point that agency media managers were not clued in to the content issue, Mr. Guarascio asked for a show of hands as to how many in the audience had even seen "South Park," the racy series on cable TV's Comedy Central that's become the rage among many 18-to-34-year-olds.
When only a scattering of hands went up, Mr. Guarascio said that proved his point about agencies' lack of attention to TV content.
Mr. Guarascio later told Advertising Age that GM would consider advertising in "South Park."
Jack Klues, exec VP-worldwide director of media for Leo Burnett Co., Chicago, and a panelist with Mr. Guarascio, responded that the GM executive was right to criticize agencies for not researching the consequences of content to a marketer's message.
Mr. Klues said that Starcom Media Services, Burnett's U.S. media arm, was embarking on a study to quantify the effects of content, particularly on TV, on advertising.
Burnett is one of GM's agencies, handling Oldsmobile.