So what do Harrigan and Gilmartin do? Seek to define a market with few collective experi- ences. Their label: COCOEs, or Children of COntradictory Experiences.
The problem with this name-as well as Generation X, Baby Busters and twentysomethings-is an obvious logical loophole: You can't define something by un-defining it. Especially when one demands that an entire generation has lived through contradictory experiences and expectations. Hasn't every generation, in one way or another?
This is the most "border-free" marketing target out there, and as the kids keep buying, the ad execs (almost understandably, because labels exist for obvious reasons) place valuable time and effort into a useless-yet somehow catchy-labelling frenzy.
I say it's time to define a new marketing group: the LAVs, or Label-AddictiVes. Harrigan and Gilmartin should strongly consider signing up for the first LAVA (Label-AddictiVes Anonymous) recovery session.
Copywriter, Mobium Corp.
As a member of the twentysomething generation and an aspiring advertising professional, I'd like to commend Ms. Harrigan and Mr. Gilmartin for their insightful look into the excessively labeled generation born between 1965 and 1975.
I have both researched and lived the life of this frequently sought market. The conclusions Ms. Harrigan and Mr. Gilmartin came to were very similar to the findings my teammates and I discovered in our research for the 1994 National Student Advertising Competition. Though our target was limited to college students, the overall message is the same: It's time to get away from the negative labels and realize that this generation is a diverse group of individuals with varied interests and experiences. And it's those experiences that make us different than twentysomethings before us.
If generations must be labeled, it's good to see that marketing consultants such as Ms. Harrigan and Mr. Gilmartin are identifying this audience more correctly. However, it is unfortunate that the term "Cocoes" isn't as catchy as "Generation X" or "Baby Busters." It's likely that many companies will continue to target to the popular stereotyped images of this group. They will also continue to miss the majority of their market.
Ad Age is moving rapidly toward reality! In your July 11 Special Report, you designated direct marketing and sales promotion agencies as falling under a broader heading, Marketing Services. We in the industry applaud your efforts to recognize that our clients come to us for solutions to marketing issues, not for a specific functional expertise.
The mastery over multiple techniques gives the better of these agencies a distinct advantage over "specialists," like general agencies, which are still selling technique.
Mitchell H. Kurz
Wunderman Cato Johnson
How refreshing and encouraging it was to see you combine direct marketing and promotion under your new Marketing Services rankings. Not so much for the rankings themselves, but for the perspective suggested by the decision to do them this way.
How disappointing, then, to see the lists themselves, properly indicating our stature in direct, and ignoring our position in promotion marketing altogether. With promotion revenues that would put us comfortably in your top 50, and combined revenues that would certainly have placed us in your top 25, it was somewhat of a surprise.
Perhaps because we think about our work in terms of client issues and solutions, and don't force fit any given efforts under a "direct," "database" or "promotional" label, some of our numbers slipped through the cracks.
Paul J. Magier
Your July 11 article by Keith J. Kelly, "Sell-offs could unbundle media," contained a piece of speculation that's off the wall.
It reported that "executives at both IDG and CMP have said privately during the past few weeks that they would love to pick up key pieces of the Ziff empire even though the family doesn't want to sell it to them." Kelly speculated, "But if a primary buyer subsequently decides to raise cash by selling to a secondary buyer, it could ... open up the process to back-door bids by Ziff's high-tech rivals-International Data Group and CMP Publications."
I can imagine why IDG or CMP might try to sow "fear, uncertainty and doubt" among our advertisers and employees, but I can't imagine why anyone who buys Ziff-Davis would then turn over key titles, trade shows or specialized talent to either of our two direct competitors in the U.S.
The Ziff-Davis assets have been packaged as a block because of the Ziff family's strong belief in the integral nature of the different business units. It is very unlikely that a qualified buyer would want to separate these units and thereby put at risk the premium value of this unique package.
The wide range of Ziff-Davis products-from computer magazines to trade shows in both the U.S. and overseas-provides the kind of marketing mix our high-tech clients are looking for. As such, Ziff-Davis represents a coherent set of assets a new owner would want to keep together.
Gregory M. Jarboe
Director of public relations
Ziff-Davis Publishing Co.
Your editorial on the 25th anniversary of positioning (AA, June 20) questions whether the progenitors, Jack Trout and Al Ries, are "glib, opportunistic and bright self-promoters" or "geniuses."
Having worked with them in the late '70s, I can assure you it's the latter. In the years since, including stints at big New York agencies such as the ever-critical Laurel Cutler's Foote, Cone & Belding, I've yet to encounter agency strategists with such a fundamental grasp of marketing communications.
And even if it's the former, at least they practice what they preach in positioning their own firm. What does FCB stand for?
My congratulations to Jack and Al-and my thanks.
Brian H. Ribbey
Exec VP, Mednick Group
Culver City, Calif.
This is a complaint about "The Nightmare: O.J. had it all, then ..." (AA, June 20). It is clearly evident that this article is assuming the guilt of O.J. Simpson, before it is proven in a court of law, for the murders of Nicole Simpson and Ronald Goldman.
Such negative press is expected of certain media, but I am extremely surprised and disappointed that Advertising Age has succumbed to this type of sensationalistic journalism. Sure, it's news that certain marketing and advertising contracts with huge dollar amounts attached to them, as well as company spokesperson roles, will be taken from O.J. Simpson, but does every media representative have to speculate on whether or not he will be proven guilty?
I found myself in complete agreement with Herbert Rotfeld's article (Forum, AA, May 30,) that a college degree doesn't ensure a job in our field of study. I say this a bit sadly, as I include myself into the millions who have bought into the romantic notion that a college degree grants us a "sure thing" in the corporate world.
I also feel that it's necessary to "get your hands dirty" in order to get work. Life doesn't always abide by the formulas and diagrams that some professors often swear by.
The corporate world can help out here, too. Many companies now seek employees with experience, not just a college degree. These companies need to offer more opportunities to the CEOs of the future. More internships should be created, and made available to those in high school. Give them money, school credits, but more importantly, a real slice of life in the profession of their choice.
Forest Hills, N.Y.
While it's refreshing to have an article reminding management of why they are, the Forum article "Agency leadership becoming disconnected" (AA, June 13) seems to have missed the mark, albeit only slightly.
As usual, the theme of the article seems to have been developed around the account management and creative teams. While these are the two most important groups of people in an agency, they are not the only two needed for a successful agency. ... I think it's about time the "back office" folks got their fair share of light, even if it's only an honorable mention.
D. Michael Patrimonio