"Leaders are pioneers. People who are willing to step out into the unknown. People who are willing to take risks, to innovate and experiment in order to find new and better ways of doing things."
We have amongst us luminaries who have dramatically demonstrated their willingness to take risks, innovate, push the envelope and go beyond it. "Leaders" whose work has collectively changed the paradigm of the business we work in. And there is no doubt the paradigm has changed and new rules do indeed apply.
The problem is too many people are not sure what those rules are, how they apply and when they become appropriate. Nothing formal and consistent has filtered down. The leaders, creative mavericks as well as management executives, have failed in the critical department of education as well as inspiration.
We have in abundance today hordes of very young (and not so young), inexperienced (and often silently terrified) account executives, art directors and copywriters passing critical phases of their careers with little direction -- and little hope of ever having significant impact on the business.
If, as some of our more colorful creative directors argue, human drama moves consumers to loyally align themselves with brands . . . surely it's human drama that will move our own people to excel and continue the tradition of continuously changing the rules.
"Human drama" is the active sharing of new knowledge with attitude. To do that, our leaders must agree to pay the price of leadership and run the accompanying risk. Otherwise the industry runs the real risk of running on empty -- and losing more credibility with our client community.
Senior VP-director of client services
McCann Amster Yard
Wonder bread lessons
The Wonder bread case Rance Crain recalls in his tribute to Yale Brozen ("How Wonder bread battle fueled a war over product `uniqueness,' " Viewpoint, AA, April 20) is something unlikely to happen again -- and for that the men and women who create today's advertising should be profoundly grateful.
It was one of a slew of Federal Trade Commission deceptive advertising cases spawned by the Ralph Nader-led consumer revolt against advertising methods that flourished in the 1960s. Many of these cases pushed to the limit of then-established law. Some, such as Wonder bread, were pared down substantially or lost; others survived review in the courts. Out of this emerged a new definition of the distinction between puffery and deception.
Such challenges can be seen from at least two perspectives. There is the cost to the advertisers, such as Wonder bread marketer Continental Baking Co., that are caught in the vortex. But if the issues are not resolved, there is also the cost to competitors, consumers and all who rely on the credibility of the marketplace.
From these cases emerged a better understanding of how TV could be used. Far more important, they also produced a change of heart that contributed to the well-being of contemporary advertising and ad people.
However heroic the Yale Brozens in their defense of advertising in the courtroom, who needs such distractions? Advertising people decided they are hired to sell merchandise, not write sagas for the law books. So they created a voluntary self-regulation mechanism where issues are resolved without the courtroom straight jacket.
On one point, I would disagree with Rance. I doubt Wonder bread would still be a national advertiser if it had stayed with its "Builds bodies 12 ways" theme. While that campaign bought a moment in the sun for the product (at a time when saturation national TV was wiping out local choice in bread and other categories), nothing is forever in a free marketplace. All over America consumers who tried Wonder bread responded gratefully when a revival of local bakeries -- with virtually no advertising -- offered something better.
I can't say exactly what this proves except that the sure route to marketing success constantly changes even when we think we finally understand it.
Stanley E. Cohen
Chevy Chase, Md.
Mr. Cohen was Advertising Age Washington editor from 1942 to 1984.
* In "Network pilots run from `quirky' to `Hollyweird' " (May 11, P. S-30), Paul Schulman is the head of media buying company Paul Schulman Co.
* In "Image of the Week" (May 11, P. 66), Fallon McElligott, Minneapolis, created the Buddy Lee campaign for Lee Dungarees.
* In "Cable nets covet $500 million shift of the upfront pie" (May 11, P. S-10), the recent adaptation of "Moby Dick" appeared on USA Network, not A&E. Also, the show received a rating of 8.1