LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: NEW RULES TO LEARN

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I agree with Rance Crain's column ("The unique selling proposition falls prey to ads as entertainment," AA, June 23) about Nina Cohen. [Ms. Cohen, as the newly named marketing VP of Norwegian Cruise Line, fired its award-winning agency Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco.]

But I suggest that Goodby et al, like most other advertising agencies trying to find out what the new rules are, is generally muddling along in the right direction. They just haven't quite got it yet.

One of the biggest problems advertising faces is that hardly anyone has ever dealt with a consumer universe as old as the present one. Unfortunately, the genius that is so desperately needed to figure out what that means rarely is found in today's shops.

When advertising [agencies] started to become big business for the sake of big business, the job of designing marketing solutions shifted by default into the control of minds generally too immature-however bright they might be-for today's biggest marketing challenges.

For example, because of youthful enthusiasm for novelty, young creatives are masterfully harnessing technology in producing mind-boggling commercials and ads. But today's marketplace increasingly is dominated by people who are not particularly impressed by technology.

We also see a lot of confrontational, flippant and lampoonish humor at a time when the humor ethos is shifting toward the decidedly different humor preferences of people in midlife and older.

Agency obsession with winning awards-which, like Rance Crain, I decry because it replaces the client and the consumer as the priority focus-is a narcissistic value the young wear well, like adolescents demonstrating with body decorations and wearing apparel messages intended to impress the shallower regions of the mind.

Because the median age of adults will reach 50 over the next 15 years, we will see yet deeper changes in the rules. Marketers in ad agencies and other venues of marketing need to realize that what a rose was to Gertrude at 20 was not the same as a rose was to her at 40, was at 60.

By some dumb instinct, some ad agency people are moving in the right direction, but their steps are as unsure as a toddler's. Thus we see the kind of nonsense advertising Rance's column discussed.

David B. Wolfe

Wolfe Resources Group

Reston, Va.

Nina Cohen is my hero, too. Let'sclone her and make her VP of marketing at every major advertiser.

I see so much advertising today-in print, but especially on TV-that I "just don't get." How does it happen?

I have a couple of theories:

1) Today's creative types have forgotten, or never learned, the sole reason for their existence in the business world is to sell stuff. Period. Too many of them think they're making "art" instead of advertising.

2) Today's clients are too easily led down the "creative" path, don't have a sense of what's good or bad, or are intimidated when they meet with, say, the "big-time" producer or creative director.

Sure, there's more clutter today and it's difficult to do work that stands out. But all the great ad guys of yesteryear were great because they were great salesmen first, great copywriters and art directors second.

Jim Enger

Marketing director, Doeren Mayhew Certified Public Accountants

Troy, Mich.

Praise for the fired

Who's done what to whom?

In "Ad accounts: On the move" (AA, June 2) you note that ABC Television pulled its $35 million account from Grey Entertainment in April.

On Page 35 (same issue), ABC ran a full page ad congratulating Grey for their 22 years of great work for ABC.

Did I miss something here?

Ike Behmoiran

Audits & Surveys Worldwide

New York

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