MINORITY HIRING IS SMART; BSB STILL SUCCESSFUL; WINNING AD IGNORES REALITY; IKEA SPOT A GROUND BREAKER; ADS ON THE HIGHWAY; KOREAN FORCES ARE READY; HOPE RATE CUTTING HAS SLOWED; SAATCHIS; PROBLEMS EXPLAINED; TALENT LOCKOUT?; DISTRUST STILL A HURDLE

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Harold Levine's suggestion that hiring more minorities will enliven the somewhat anemic advertising business (Forum, AA, May 9) is a smart idea.

It's smart for other reasons, too. As our own society grows more multicultural and as more advertising becomes global in nature, it seems unwise for the ethnic makeup of advertising executives and creatives to remain so heavily western European. Do we really still cling to the idea that we are the only ones who know how to communicate?

It seems sad to me (besides being economically unsound and morally bankrupt) that advertising agencies cannot bring themselves to diversify their staffs more, other than a token black here or there.

As a teacher of marketing and advertising in the highly multicultural environment of the City University of New York, I can attest to the talent and enthusiasm of minorities. The new and sometimes startling points of view that minority students offer continues to remind me of what the advertising business is losing by not hiring more of these fine young graduates.

Chuck McMellon

Baruch College

New York

Your article in the May 30 issue ("Bungey pushes BSB ahead into Bates Worldwide era," P. 35) is insulting to the 6,600 professionals at Backer Spielvogel Bates and Bates Worldwide who have worked hard over the past five years to create one of the world's largest and most successful agencies, by any yardstick.

It was built by bringing together the talents of Backer & Spielvogel, Ted Bates and, later, Dorland. You will recall that the Ted Bates agency had a difficult period after it was acquired by Saatchi & Saatchi. Therefore, the merger had to be accomplished carefully and with compassion. Thus, to have your reporter refer to this agency as "moribund" and having a "dreary creative reputation" is an example of journalistic "license" at its worst.

Leaving out some of the excellent creative done in other countries, the U.S. agency has produced at least four campaigns that any agency would like to have on its reel-Wendy's, Miller Genuine Draft, Hyundai and TWA.

Second, the two recent major new-business victories-Warner-Wellcome and Miller Ice beer-were lead by two separate groups of professionals who have been part of the New York agency account and creative management teams for many years.

As to the so-called "tensions" that exist between me and Michael Bungey, that is another example of journalistic trade hype. I signed a contract with the parent company five years ago which encompassed planned succession. That succession has taken place, and we are moving forward to insure that all of our deserving staff have jobs and that all of our clients receive first-class service.

Carl Spielvogel

Chairman

Backer Spielvogel Bates

New York

Re: Kelly Award to Kinney on their shoe ad (AA, May 23). Ouch! As a woman, the idea of squeezing my foot into that contorted position as shown in the ad with that too-pointed, too-high-heeled shoe is enough to make me want to go barefoot. It sets women's feet back to the days of Japanese foot-binding.

Still worse, fishnet stocking (you try wearing them!) rub bare skin raw against the shoe and your feet end up in blisters. And what is the model wearing as a skirt? A chiffon/gauze fabric no one would wear in public except to a ballet recital or Halloween ball. For shame on the judges! As punishment for choosing this ad, they ought to be forced to spend one hour in the same shoes, stockings and skirt.

Margie Goldsmith

President, MG Productions

New York

I was happy to see Bob Garfield's AdReview in which he recognizes the Ikea Dining Room ad as "wonderful advertising" (AA, April 4). It is wonderful advertising and it is hoped that other companies target the gay community with similar ads in the future.

Mr. Garfield's characterization of the ad as an "innocuous life-style spot" must not go unchallenged, however. In fact, this ad is revolutionary in its concept and content. I am hard-pressed to think of any other ad where two gay men talk about where they met and the commitment that they share with each other. The fact that members of the gay community are integrated into family units and build happy, productive lives together is groundbreaking in the advertising industry.

Paul Rubenstein

Media response and monitoring committee, Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation

New York

I strongly disagree with Rance Crain's column in the May 23 issue. My main difference of opinion with Mr. Crain is his statement that Procter & Gamble Chairman Edwin Artzt "visualizes that viewers could watch a pay-per-view movie for half price if they agreed to watch a P&G spot or two. I don't think it'll get many takers. People are going to pay-per-view because they don't want their fare interrupted."

I did an e-mail survey within our organization and posed the following scenario: "Your favorite movie is on pay-per-view television tonight and you have the option of watching it for $3.50 without interruption or for $2.50 with one 2-minute commercial intermission. Which would you choose?" Of the 60 people answering my survey after one hour, 70% voted for the commercials.

This leads me to my second disagreement with Mr. Crain's column. My personal view is that advertising will become much more informational, even for detergents, than it is now. I have a couple of problems with Mr. Crain's statement, "... does anyone really think they'll punch up an in-depth analysis of a new floor cleaner?"

Viewers have not only been watching, but buying from half-hour, in-depth analyses of similar products (car wax?) in infomercials. In addition, Consumer Reports (a very popular section of this online service) has done a cover story on detergents. They must have something to talk about, and some of that might be fodder for a great extended-length commercial.

I believe we're getting a little far afield on this "superhighway" argument when we assume the future will be nothing like the past. When television started, its model was radio. Chances are there will be a little of the past, some will be exactly as it is now, and some of the future will certainly be very different, exciting, challenging and new.

Carl Kotheimer

Exec VP-marketing services

Horizon Media

New York

(Sent by Prodigy. Rance Crain's

reply is on the Advertising Age

bulletin board on Prodigy)

I believe Jim Brady's column "The march of the wooden soldiers" (AA, Feb. 28) has one missing ingredient, that being attribution to any source that substatiates his negative characterization of the U.S. millitary forces stationed in the Republic of Korea, and the South Korean soldiers. Has he recently visited South Korea or asked for a briefing on the state of readiness there?

I have been retired from the Army for almost 10 years. At the time of my retirement, the quality of South Korea's armed forces was superb. It had not deteriorated one bit from the excellence of the Korean army divisions which fought alongside our troops in Vietnam. I doubt that much has changed since then.

Ronald A. Duchin

Senior VP, Mongoven, Biscoe & Duchin

Washington

I hope it's true that ABP members are "getting away from the rampant rate cutting of the last 10 years or so" (Rance Crain, AA, May 2). Only last year, ABP voted to remove from its Code of Publishing Practice the clause requiring members to stick to their published rates.

If the rate-cutting trend is in fact being slowed, it would be comforting to those of us who believe that compliance with the deleted paragraph is the only way to run a publishing business.

Horace B. Barks

Publisher, Electrical Apparatus

Chicago

Your May 9 story, "Saatchi intrigue runs wall to wall," regarding their new New York CEO Bill Muirhead, contains two short paragraphs that point directly to the heart of the Saatchis' problems.

"Two months into his job, Mr. Muirhead said his biggest surprise has been the size of the ad budgets in the U.S. compared with the U.K.

"`Maybe that's why advertising here is so conservative; there's so much at risk,' Mr. Muirhead said."

Wow! I don't know which is worse-sending someone over here to be CEO who needs "on the job training," or someone who thinks American agencies are populated by people less clever than where he comes from.

When it comes to big bucks, clients can't take a joke. Maybe that's why the sun is setting on the British ... excuse me ... the Saatchi empire.

Shelley Schachter

Senior VP-creative director

Hakuhodo Advertising

New York

Talent lockout?

As a recent college graduate interested in entering the advertising field, I've noticed two unfortunate practices that control the way you people recruit:

1. Advertisers have selfishly closed their world from intruders looking to work for them, and re-fuse opportunities to those who are incredibly hard working with innovative minds-people much like myself.

2. Those whose resumes and letters are acknowledged, and blessed with the chance of working for an advertising firm, are never the classic brilliant overachiever-like me. Their luck is a consequence of an advertising business that has sadly deformed into a private club of nepotism.

I've read countless articles in Advertising Age that desperately try to figure out why your industry is destructing and what can be done about it. I have a simple solution. Hire those of us who are actually talented instead of the executive VP's son who would've worked harder in school, but just couldn't stop watching ESPN.

Gardner Brant

Edina, Minn.

(Sent via Prodigy)

Distrust still a hurdle

Those of us in advertising still have a long way to go to build trust with the consumer.

Recently at the Marketing and Photography exhibit displayed at Columbia College in Chicago was this student remark penciled on a response card: "If advertising weren't misleading, it wouldn't work."

Other comments were equally skeptical.

Rob Alen

Advertising manager

Acura division

Torrance, Calif.

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