Let me see if I understand this. Two products, both of which are dangerous to and illegal for young people to purchase. Animated but realistic frogs and lizards are OK, but once they pass some sacred border into pen and ink, they become evil manipulation of young minds to sell a dangerous product illegally.
It seems like the only real criterion is does Bob [Garfield] find the characters endearing?
I'm not so foolish as to presume censorship is easy to administer-it gets very subjective very quickly. But if Joe Camel deserves to die, so do Louie, Walter and the frogs. They clearly appeal to kids. Since when did an inside joke story line affect whether or not kids found a character attractive? Old Joe wasn't telling nursery rhymes .*.*.
I've been astonished since the campaign began that, in the harsh light of Joe Camel, Budweiser would be so stupid as to formulate a campaign that pushes the appeal of its commercials right down to the toddler level. More power to them if they don't mind the heat-but somehow I don't think Budweiser will enjoy being painted as immorally appealing to minors.
Babcock & Jenkins Direct
Trust is the key
Regarding your June 2 cover story ("The year in review(s): Is it a record pace?"): Good reasons are given for the increasing number of agency reviews, but a major underlying cause is missing.
You identify the principal cause of increasing client-agency breakups as changes in business practices, pressure on clients and commensurate pressure on agencies. But this is not new: Clients have always been under pressure, just to compete. And so have agencies.
What has fundamentally changed is the nature of client-agent relations. Agencies were usually trusted-resented perhaps, but in the final vote, trusted . . .
When things such as technology, labor costs, foreign competition and changing distribution practices caused clients to make fundamental changes, agencies (especially the big ones) did not change as well.
Local shops, boutiques and creative cells offered clients the kind of results that major agencies couldn't or wouldn't offer. Agencies stuck to the commission system and the old organization; creative was king! They kept making the same promises, but failed to deliver. The trust was gone. Just ask the clients.
Agencies have kept on making pitches for new business, instead of listening and redesigning themselves to suit clients' obvious needs and demands. A technique that has worked well is teaching both clients and agencies the art of engagement, instead of confrontation. It really works.
This issue is not a matter of trying times, it is an attitude problem. For a long while, agencies-in their custodianship of the consumer mind-convinced themselves that it was their football. Yes, they had the power of salesmanship, but not the leverage. It's the clients' football.
Now many agencies are trying to get back the control, instead of learning how the new game is to be played. They never had the football, but they had the trust.
Get it back.
David F. O'Connor
Forest Knolls, Calif.
Poor choice of words
Permit me to make three observations:
1) Among some members of the public there still may be doubts about the safety of ValuJet.
2) Probably I am not the only person who has repeatedly heard the hackneyed B-movie line, "If I go down, I'll take you with me."
3) Given the first two observations, if I were a copywriter for the airline I think I would have resisted using the headline in the above ad. (It appeared in the Raleigh (N.C.) News & Observer, June 15, 1997).
President, Marquest Research