GOOD TASTE VS. TASTE GOOD; INTEGRITY ON THE NET?; AD HISTORY'S VALUE;POLITICS, BOB DON'T MIX; ADS THAT KILL; LAWS AS BABYSITTERS;MORE THAN SWITCHERS

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I read with amusement "Blurring the ad-editorial line" in the Interactive section of your Nov. 13 issue.

What I find so amusing is the notion that there is even a debate regarding editorial integrity on the Net-or anywhere else, for that matter. Why should the Net be any different than other media? There's no such concern regarding content on radio, or television-at least nothing you'd notice.

And please don't tell me that people buy Playboy or Penthouse for the articles. For that matter, why do you think the Penthouse Web site is such a hit? It certainly has nothing to do with editorial integrity. Take away the naked women and they might as well fold the tent.

The truth is, people don't want media with good taste, they want media that taste good. Sure, it's cynical, but whose fault is that? Worse yet, when we confront our role in creating demand for goods and services that nobody really needs-or that actually do harm-we grow very sanctimonious in our self-defense. It has little to do with integrity. That blurring you perceive is merely the predictable and appropriate spin we've placed on our guilty collective conscience.

It may be new media, but it's the same old message. Marshall McLuhan was right.

Michael Einstein

Honolulu

I read with interest the article in the Dec. 4 issue on the John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising & Marketing History. I was reminded as I read it of the February piece in Ad Age about "Millennium Fever" and nostalgia advertising.

Creating such a center is of both educational value and practical use. As we move toward the turn of the century, we're seeing companies looking back and using their past to market in the present. If the records don't exist, then where will the materials come from?

As Hartman notes, the archives of the advertising, sales and marketing worlds "reflect our...societies, contemporary values of the time, cultures..." They help us discover how we have become the way we are in various aspects of our lives. And the past serves as a point of reference in a time of great change.

Using the past can only add to loyalty marketing campaigns. This strategy can convey a feeling of reliability and dependability and remind people of the brands they use and have used in the past.

Phyllis Barr

New York

I was alarmed to see that Bob Garfield is writing reviews of political campaigns. Just as I didn't like Jim Brady's bias against the Reagan administration creeping into his column, I don't think there is any place for political commentary from one who could best be described as an art critic.

I have read frequent letters to the editor criticizing Garfield. In the main, I disagree with them. Garfield is moderately capable of following fads in commercial techniques and he is glib enough. But he doesn't understand the underlying drives that make good advertising a success, nor the errors that make it fail.

I'm sure he'd much rather be doing a column for The New York Times. He'd probably make a dandy successor to Tony Lewis. But his work doesn't belong in the pages of Advertising Age unless you square it in a box with the heading " Editorial."

Thomas Whitehead

Merrill & Whitehead Corp.

Chalfont, Pa.

There is no doubt in my mind that smoking kills, and that tobacco advertising influences people of all ages, particularly younger people, to smoke.

I smoked B&H and Marlboros until 1991, when I suffered a heart attack. My cardiologist said, "If you don't stop smoking now, you will die sooner than you think." I have since quit smoking, but I am deeply disturbed when I see young people smoking.

I am also deeply disturbed by Philip Morris and other tobacco companies espousing the right to smoke in all kinds of media, including international newspapers. Let me urge all magazines and newspapers, TV and radio stations, movie theaters and outdoor board companies to discontinue tobacco advertising; the sooner the better. Or live with the fact that tobacco advertising will influence people to smoke and, in the end, kill them.

Clive J. Antioch

Arlon, Belgium

In your Oct. 30 Letters page, Mitchell Firger takes D.R. Bell to task for expressing her opinion that "unneeded smoking ad regulations" are a violation of the First Amendment. Mr. Firger says that's OK if the purpose is to protect the health and welfare of children. Wrong, Mr. Firger.

You, and too many other supposedly well-intentioned people believe that it is OK to suspend our constitutional amendments whenever the cause is (in your opinion) "right." The amendments are there for a purpose, Mr. Firger, and that purpose is to keep our freedoms intact and operational.

Sure, children need protecting, but whose job is that? Answer: Their parents. Children need to be taught that they are responsible for their own actions, and that they eventually will have to live with-or die from-the consequences of their actions and decisions.

We already have far too many grown people in this country who blame their problems on someone or everyone else. It's time to get out of the babysitter business.

Larry McGhee

Marketing comm. director

Eldorado Cartridge Corp.

Boulder City, Nev.

In his letter (AA, Nov. 13), Clive Turner of the Tobacco Manufacturers' Association repeats the industry's tired old canard that cigarette advertising is solely intended to persuade adult smokers to switch brands and has no effect whatsoever on encouraging nonsmokers to start smoking. Let me present three facts that will shed light on this subject.

Fact No. 1: The tobacco industry in the U.S. has increased its annual budget for advertising and promotion from $2.580 billion in 1987 to $6.034 billion in 1993. This represents a 133.87% increase in just six years (Federal Trade Commission report to Congress).

Fact No. 2: While there are hundreds of brands of cigarettes sold in the U.S., there are only six major cigarette manufacturers. So, for example, the money spent on advertising to persuade a Parliament smoker to switch to Marlboro is, if one accepts Mr. Turner's hypothesis, entirely wasted since both are manufactured by Philip Morris.

Fact No. 3: The tobacco industry admits that brand switching is becoming less common among American smokers. According to Jim Morgan, President and CEO of Philip Morris USA, brand switching is "at its lowest point in the past 8 to 10 years."

If tobacco executives truly believed Mr. Turner's hypothesis, they could easily save that $6 billion and return every penny of it to their shareholders rather than make what amounts to a multi-billion dollar investment in the advertising industry. Instead of resisting a government-imposed ban on tobacco advertising, they would welcome it.

Unless, of course, the reality is that they need cigarette advertising as an essential tool to addict today's children onto the drug nicotine.

Edward L. Sweda Jr.

Senior attorney

Tobacco Products Liability

Project, Boston

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