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Age diversity

The March 9 issue of The New York Times Magazine devoted a special edition to the subject: "The Age Boom"-the highlight of which for the advertising community was an article by Jerry Della Femina entitled, "When Will Madison Avenue Get It?" The gist of the article was that, in its blind quest for the 18-to-49 age group, the advertising community is ignoring a growing and affluent market segment . . .

The problem with gaining recognition for this reality-as I have come to recognize it during these two years-is quite simply this: There is no more gray hair at advertising agencies!

For whatever reason, be it an all-out youth movement or economics, it is impossible to find anyone in the trenches with gray hair. Just try to find anyone over the age of 50 involved with the day-to-day planning and creating of advertising. As a result, we have the young creating advertising for themselves-and no one acknowledging there is a market out there bigger and more affluent than the one they now so single-mindedly address.

I have a remedy for this all-out orientation. I suggest that every agency establish a "Geezer Group" in its midst-whose job it would be to focus on what I call Generation G, the Gray Market.

In addition to being a service to the agency's clients, the "Geezer Group" would also help to keep talented people working and productive. Eventually, it might even become a job that agency people might aspire to!

But, importantly, it would get the agency and its clients focused on this key market.

Howard Willens

Gray Matters

Hewlett, N.Y.

Your "Diversity" [Special Report] (AA, Feb. 17) amplified many important subjects, but I didn't hear one boom.

Your theme that marketers should hire diverse employees to communicate with diverse markets was not stereophonically sound. What about the largest cohort in the history of demand economies? Baby boomers have an enormous amount of money, energy and time to develop brand loyalty. A little age diversity on the hiring side could reach this market very effectively. At least it would get rid of those nonsensical TV geezers posing as grandparents.

Margot Wallace

Chair, Advertising & Design

International Academy of

Merchandising and Design


Fashion correctness

If James Brady is looking for "fashion police" recruits since his essay on Michael Eisner's short black socks ("For Eisner, socks still send a Mickey Mouse message," AA, March 24), then I'd like to apply for my badge and uniform . . .

I'd begin my assault on men who wear black rubber watches with business suits-and even with cuff links-like President Clinton did when he was first inaugurated in 1993. He even wore his vulcanized Timex with a tuxedo at a White House reception for Nelson Mandela . . . In his defense, Mr. Clinton graduated to an "adult" watch more than a year ago . . .

If their socks aren't long enough to cover their shins, if they dare to wear cuff links that don't match their belt buckles, and if they can't afford a metal, analog watch with a leather band, then let's arrest them or at least remove them from their lofty positions and send them off to a place that better suits their particular style-like Arkansas.

William L. Burge

Ballwin, Mo.

Goodbye, `Inside Media'

Regarding the abrupt closing of Inside Media, as editor in chief of the magazine I am writing to do what neither I nor my terrific staff were able to do last month: Say "goodbye" to our thousands of loyal supporters.

Inside Media had a great run for nearly eight years against much bigger competitors, providing a forum for the media industry's best thinkers and writers. The outpouring of consternation and good will that has accompanied our demise suggests we'll be missed.

In hundreds of phone calls, people invariably have asked three things. My responses herein are entirely personal.

If IM was profitable, why did Cowles Business Media fold it? Facing two much larger competitors, there wasn't acceptable revenue and profit growth on the immediate horizon.

Wasn't IM widely considered a premium editorial product, which had won the industry's top awards? Yes, but in this particular battle, size and CPM carried the day. IM was entirely dependent upon advertising revenue. Far more readers than advertisers recognized the quality of our efforts.

Will there be a replacement for IM? I doubt it. As with any business enterprise, success hinges on the mix of people who come together at the right time and place to function as a stellar team. I can't imagine replicating the combination of IM's editorial and sales talent, even if a company could be found to underwrite the investment required.

Steve Ellwanger

Stamford, Conn

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