HURTING MARKET RESEARCH; BENETTON'S DAMAGE; GRUNTS & SQUEALS; THOMAS MCGREW REMEMBERED; CON AND PRO

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As a market researcher of more than 20 years, I was horrified and distressed to read the story "This loot's for you" (AA, Feb. 6) that described Publishers Clearing House's efforts to film the big giveaway.

The sentence that caused my emotional reaction was: "Soft-spoken Advertising Coordinator Carroll Rotchford posed as a market researcher and phoned Mrs. Brandt." It is a basic tenet of all reputable market research companies never to mislead the respondent as to the purpose of the call.

For Publishers Clearing House to use "this is a survey ..." to get an individual's address and whereabouts at a specific time and day poses a frightening prospect for those of us worried about privacy issues and their relationship to response rates.

No less than an apology from Publishers Clearing house should be demanded by the research community.

Jeffrey W. Rodgers

Senior VP, Scarborough Research

San Diego

Your editorial of Feb. 13 ("Why praise a censor?") depicts me as praising the censor. Despite the unpleasant tone (over here we try to avoid dismissing statements that we do not agree with as simply "stupid"), I'd like to offer a few comments that may better explain my position.

Your editorial raises a major point: freedom of (commercial) speech vs. law. A French court has declared Benetton's "HIV positive" campaign as "exploitive" of both AIDS and AIDS patients, as well as "outside the domain of commercial activities." As such, Benetton was found to have abused its freedom of expression to the detriment of others, and its campaign was ruled unlawful and liable to punishment.

Those are facts of French law, and we must respect them. May I stress that no one in this country feels that the ad industry should support campaigns ruled illegal-not for the theoretical sake of freedom of speech, and not even if that shocks you. Those are our laws.

"Legal," moreover, is the first and most obvious adjective used in the International Chamber of Commerce Code, followed by "decent, honest and truthful." We all respect and endorse that code, and we in the French ad industry will not challenge that universal view.

But beyond the legal element and its ethical foundation, you clearly do not realize the damage that these numerous Benetton campaigns have done throughout Europe, not only (as you note) to their own retailers, but to the advertising business in general.

From the very beginning, Benetton chose to ignore our common rules of self-regulation and thus has endangered the reputation of self-regulation, its practice, procedures and its bodies both nationally and Europe-wide. The overwhelming majority of advertisers, agencies and media in European countries have considered this an irresponsible attitude. It has created considerable instability and has posed a threat to the advertising community as a whole since regulators, legislators and governments are, as a result, more inclined to distrust self-regulation and set up new, stricter rules. This we do not want either.

I will not try to give any lessons here other than to again note that ethics and responsibility are important values to the ad industry, and both are vital in helping to preserve its freedom of speech. Responsibility has nothing to do with censorship.

Jacques Bille

French Advertising Agency

Association

Paris

A collective grunt was heard across America when America's pork producers read Bob Garfield's review of our latest effort, which debuted on the Super Bowl (AA, Jan. 30).

While we appreciate the attention, Mr. Garfield should know better than to question the factuality of our claims. Today's fresh pork, The Other White Meat, is comparable in fat, calories and cholesterol to any cut of skinless chicken. So when he snorts "angioplasty" we, along with the American consumer, squeal "spa cuisine."

Barry Pfouts

VP-director of consumer

product marketing, National

Pork Producers Council

Des Moines, Iowa

The advertising industry recently lost a brilliant and tireless advocate with the untimely death of Thomas J. McGrew, who specialized in advertising law at the law firm of Arnold & Porter in Washington.

Tom was one of the outstanding experts in the country on advertising and marketing law and was often called upon to offer his advice on a wide array of issues facing our industry. He was also an expert on self-regulation, providing invaluable counsel at a crucial juncture for streamlining and improving the national advertising review process of the National Advertising division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus.

Several years ago, Tom miraculously received a renewed lease on life through a heart transplant, and he was always courageous, especially during the illness that ultimately took his life at the age of 53. Tom loved his family, loved his work and loved life. We will miss his strength, his wisdom and his wit.

Daniel L. Jaffe

Exec VP, Association of National Advertisers

Washington

For the life of me, I cannot figure out why the James Brady column is part of your publication. Every week we are treated to an uninteresting and irrelevant journey to his life and musings; where he vacations, whom he dines with, where he summers, etc. Who cares! There is rarely any relevant insight, observation or wit that is consistent with the context of Advertising Age.

Patrick T. Furey

Exec VP, W.B. Doner & Co.

Southfield, Mich.

About two months ago my subscription to Ad Age was about to expire and I was going to let it go. ... But then I realized I wouldn't be able to read Jim Brady's columns every week and decided to continue the subscription. Mr. Brady, you made that decision worthwhile with your great column about Pierre Berge (AA, Dec. 5). I had to write and tell you how wonderful it was.

Thanks for doing what you do so well. It makes coming to the office on Monday just a little bit easier.

Janet Schlesinger

William B. Johns & Partners

New York

Advertising Age welcomes letters to the editor, but we ask that they be held to no more than 250 words in length. Address letters to Advertising Age, Viewpoint Editor, 740 Rush St., Chicago 60611. Fax: (312) 649-5331. Letters can also be posted through the Ad Age Bulletin Board on Prodigy, or by Prodigy E-Mail at EHBU73A@prodigy.com.

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