HIGHWAY CROWDED OR NOT?; PHILIP MORRIS' POSITION; FRAGRANT PRAISE; KEEP ADREVIEW COMING;IMPORTANCE OF DIVERSITY; WHY STATIONS SPURN SPOTS; QUESTIONS TOO SPECULATIVE;INEFFICIENCY ISN'T SMART

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Back in April 1994, a Louis Harris poll of 1,255 adults found that 66% of them "don't know anything" about the so-called "information highway." A recent poll done this year among 3,603 adults by the Times Mirror Center for People & the Press found that respondents were "only vaguely aware" of what the Internet is. On the other hand, a current Ad Age sample of 1,000 adults noted that over 8 out of 10 (82%) had heard of the Internet. As for Internet use, some estimate 20 million to 30 million users connected through their PCs, but others believe the figures to be extremely high and see only 2 million to 3 million possible users.

These differences from survey to survey show the difficulty in getting a good read on this new and complicated medium. On the other hand, variation in responses could help to keep a check on the tendency to "hype" cyberspace. I don't think "everyone" knows about the Internet or the "information highway."

Rich Ujvary

Associate director

Capital Cities/ABC

New York

Philip Morris U.S.A. never indicated to Advertising Age that it would pull their advertising for cigarettes or that Kraft or Miller would pull their advertisements from Knight-Ridder publications (AA, Nov. 27). Like other companies, Philip Morris U.S.A. evaluates publications on a case-by-case basis for such factors as circulation, reader demographics and appeal to our desired market-in this case, adult smokers.

Advertising Age has apparently misunderstood, and consequently misstated, Philip Morris U.S.A.'s true position on the Knight-Ridder guidelines for cigarette ads.

What we did say was: "We will honor the right of publishers and publications to make choices as to whether they will accept tobacco ads or not, but once a publisher makes a decision to accept our ads, we will not under any circumstance allow them to dictate the content of those ads and PM will continue to place ads which comply in all respects with our own code and applicable laws."

Ellen Merlo

Senior VP-corporate affairs

Philip Morris U.S.A.

New York

I appreciate your deft handling of the Fragrance Foundation's public awareness campaign in your Sept. 11 issue. I am particularly appreciative of your including information about the Olfactory Research Fund. This certainly validates the importance of the recent scientific studies that have established the positive effects fragrances have on behavior.

Annette Green

President

The Fragrance Foundation

New York

Bob Garfield writes many great columns, and the one on the new Ford Taurus TV campaign (AA, Oct. 2) is one of his very best. It is a shame that mediocrity is the norm for an increasing number of major advertisers.

Keep the reviews coming. They are enjoyable and enlightening.

Leigh Morris

Milwaukee

Having spent a year and a half at one of the largest ad agencies in Philadelphia, I can't help but express my concern about a phenomenon that, left unchallenged, could be the death knell for many an agency as this century draws to a close.

What I found puzzling was an attitude pervading the agency that advertising centered around people of color could effectively be farmed out to "minority" contractors. For example, the RFP for one particular multimillion-dollar piece of local business contained a 15% minority participation clause. Despite being one of the largest agencies in the city, we had no established ties with any of the region's "minority"-owned agencies. Thus ensued a mad scramble to find a suitable "minority" agency to answer the RFP.

If the big bosses had opened their eyes, they would have observed that of the agency's nearly 100 employees, there were just five African-Americans, one Hispanic and two Asians. In an era of shrinking ad budgets, the agency that lacks diversity within its staff will not compete as effectively as the agency that more closely reflects the racial and ethnic makeup of today's U.S.

This example illustrates my reasoning: One afternoon an urgent e-mail swept through the agency pleading for anyone with experience in black haircare products to please contact Sally. I couldn't help but chuckle; with 30-plus years of using black haircare products, it was within the realm of possibility that I could make some sort of contribution.

I wouldn't dare assume that by simply amassing as much information about Hispanics, for instance, that I could respond appropriately to their needs and desires. It would be impossible for me not to miss something important about this demographic. Yet such a cavalier, disrespectful attitude is standard operating procedure within the advertising community.

The agency that recognizes the reality of an increasingly ethnically diverse U.S. and, in turn, makes an effort to recruit people of color, will have a definite advantage going into the 21st century when compared to the typical, gold old whitebread shop.

Sid Holmes

Philadelphia

In response to the article "Ads strike out at gay bashing" (AA, Nov. 20), it seems to me that those television stations and cable networks choosing not to air the spots (from Parents, Families & Friends of Lesbians and Gays) are simply exercising good judgment. Depending on the statistics you choose to believe, somewhere between 1% and 5% of Americans are homosexual. That means 95% to 99% are not. And, of that 95% to 99%, I believe it's safe to say that the overwhelming majority find homosexuality a repulsive abomination.

Given the choice of offending either PFLAG or (nearly) their entire viewership, it is easy to understand why stations or networks would choose to decline to air these spots.

Scott J. Thomas

VP of media, ADEX

Oakwood Terrace, Ill.

In your editorial "The power of advertising?" (AA, Nov. 6), reference was made to a research study reporting that "only 25% of respondents said a TV ad would induce them to buy a new product." As I read the implication, Ad Age accepts the number 25% as a good indication of advertising's potential effectiveness.

Questions of this nature are too speculative to obtain a meaningful and reliable indication of new product advertising effectiveness. Most copy testing researchers know that direct questions as to the effectiveness of ads are not good indicators, since consumers frequently do not know what effect advertising has upon them. That is why most of us employ questions of indirection; e.g., pre/post persuasion measures and commercial ratings. Some of us also employ measures of "emotional" affect. (Our emotional involvement measure is not consciously controlled by the respondent).

Emotional impact is often only partially registered in the consciousness of the consumer and can have a latent effect on behavior. Most creatives design ads to affect an emotional reaction and are justifiably annoyed when research surveys rely too heavily on conscious, rational response.

In addition, such global questions do not take into account how advertising is often targeted to a specific group. Those not in that group who see the ad may not be affected-well, they were not intended to be affected.

Jack Shimell

President, Inner Response

Charlotte, N.C.

The article "Venture shifts strategy" in the Nov. 20 issue shows a lack of understanding as to facts of the retail industry.

In 1971, Venture had sales of $106 million, Bradlee's had $200 million and Caldor had $116 million. At the same time, Wal-Mart had sales of $78 million, S.S. Kresge (now Kmart) had $3.1 billion. In other words, Venture was 35% larger than Wal-Mart, Bradlee's was 156% larger and Caldor was 49% larger.

Did it ever occur to you that if Venture's management, Bradlee's management and Caldor's management were as good as that of Wal-Mart's it wouldn't be necessary to include such statements as "Many regional discounters like Venture have fallen prey to Wal-Mart, Kmart and Target."

Once Venture was relatively efficient; now it is not.

How can you endorse this change in strategy as a smart move?

Robert Kahn

Robert Kahn & Associates

Lafayette, Calif.

Advertising Age welcomes letters to the editor, but we ask that they be held to no more than 250 words in length. The editors reserve the right to edit letters. Address letters to Advertising Age, Viewpoint Editor, 740 Rush St., Chicago 60611. Fax: (312) 649-5331. Letters can also be posted via the Internet to edit@adage.com.

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