LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

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Anti-tobacco `overkill'

Regarding the March 23 Advertising Age editorial "Anti-ad excess": The Harkin/Chafee/Graham bill calling for $750 million annually for "counteradvertising" against tobacco products is not "overkill," as you claimed.

This budget level makes sense when you realize it is a full-scale marketing campaign that is needed, not just advertising. This would include extensive promotion, merchandising (e.g., T-shirts, gear and other anti-smoking incentives), contests, direct mail and much more.

You say the tobacco companies spend billions, but have to support multiple brands. The anti-tobacco marketers also need to build and support an image "brand," and it won't have the advantage of being addictive.

Also, this bill is one of many now moving forward in Congress. With momentum building for legislation to regulate the tobacco industry and protect kids from smoking, this is a good time for the ad industry to examine its position and social responsibility.

The American Association of Advertising Agencies and others still claim they don't condone cigarettes, just the right to advertise them. Research shows that this advertising plays a significant role in youth smoking behavior, both in terms of experimentation and taking up the habit as well as in brand preference.

William D. Novelli

President, National Center for

Tobacco-Free Kids

Washington

Too many dumb ads

Rance Crain is 1,000% right regarding his comments about dumb ads ("Watch out! Now consumers can see right through dumb ads," Viewpoint, AA, March 2). Every day in magazines, newspapers and TV there appear downright misleading offers in advertising. Language, design and, above all, truth in advertising all are consistently relegated to the backburner.

A division of our company, Opinion=3, critiques ads and has for many years had clients revise their ads -- from dumb and cute to believable. That, after all, should be the real basis of advertising.

William J. Stevens

President, Dorval Agency

Lake Worth, Fla.

The ties that bond

Ken Olshan's Forum article ("Olshan tells where Wells went wrong," AA, March 2) stressed the importance of building strong relationships as essential to bonding with clients.

Good relationships and loyalty come from caring. Caring is intuitive. It comes from good people.

Ken and I worked together at BBDO some 40 years ago. He was special then: a talented professional, a good person, a mensch.

The essence of the individual doesn't change. Nurturing relationships and developing loyalties come naturally to Ken. People like Ken establish a culture necessary for successful business partnerships. When the people part of the business is ignored or forgotten, confidence erodes and partnerships fail.

There is much to be gained from Ken's comments.

Hal Duchin

Senior sales/marketing consultant American Express Publishing Co.

New York

Incredibly tacky

This ad for a body hair removal studio that ran in a recent New York Magazine qualifies for the "Ads We Can Do Without" Hall of Fame (or should I say Hall of Shame). Obviously the headline is meant to be a play on the PETA anti-fur ads, but I am extremely offended by the comparison of a woman's pubic hair to "fur."

That is an incredibly tacky, juvenile and rude expression, generally used by giggling schoolboys and crude stand-up-comic wannabees. The tasteless morons who wrote and approved this should be sentenced to have every hair on their bodies removed one by one via hot waxing, and then sent to a sensitivity training class.

Helen Barlotta

Chestnut Ridge, N.Y.

Corrections

* In "Jones moves to transform JWT" (March 23, P. 12), Larry Tolpin is CEO of JWT West and a worldwide chief creative officer of J. Walter Thompson Co., overseeing Los Angeles, San Francisco and Canada.

* In "New Baskin-Robbins ads modernize chain's image" (March 16, P. 8), the new campaign is themed "Happiness served daily.'

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