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MRI changes not enough

The proposal by Mediamark Research to add 10,000 persons to its survey ("MRI to solve research woes-by year 2001," AA, Jan. 27) is like a physician treating a patient's symptoms rather than the illness.

The fundamental ailment afflicting magazine readership research is not a lack of statistical reliability related to small sample sizes. It's human memory.

A system that relies on people to remember with detail and precision the specific magazines they have read in the past is fraught with peril.

Electronic measurement may be a better alternative. A low-power, electronic ID code can be placed in the spine of a magazine. A microchip, placed within a wristwatch or bracelet and worn by the respondent, passively collects those ID signals and provides a record of magazine readership. The system can also be extended to measure TV and radio.

The technology currently exists. At a recent Advertising Research Foundation workshop, I outlined a testing process for electronic measurements of readership that can be accomplished in four years at an estimated total cost of $5 million, and challenged the industry to initiate it in 1997.

Magazines are at risk. Marketers are demanding accountability from their media advertising investment. TV and other electronic media currently have an edge in this area. A "magazine meter" system could help print compete more effectively for a larger share of the media budget.

Can the same be said for larger sample sizes? Absolutely not.

Jonathan Swallen

Senior Partner, Director of Media Research Services, Ogilvy & Mather

New York

HI ad not shocking

Don't they have daytime sleaze TV in Minneapolis? Fallon McElligott's "Bob Johnson" Holiday Inn spot ("Holiday Inn bends gender in new TV spot," AA, Jan. 20) wasn't too shocking for America, it was simply too boringly expected-and almost as self-indulgent as the agency's aptly titled new "Dick" work for Miller. (I'd guess they'll justify that by telling the client any controversy is good for Miller.)

But the boys in Minneapolis had better wake up to the fact that they're not doing creative one-shots for local hardware stores anymore; they've gotten themselves in the big leagues. And the kind of stuff you see in fresh-out-of-school creative portfolios probably won't cut it much longer.

Looking forward to their United Airlines work.

Norman Muse

Tavernier, Fla.

Mr. Muse retired as chairman and chief creative officer of Leo Burnett Co., Chicago, in 1986.

They both were right

I noticed your dispute about claims in advertising (Bob Garfield and Rance Crain columns with differing views on whether "preemptive" advertising is misleading, AA, Dec. 16). Interesting, if a bit peevish, petty and petulant.

Oddly, I believe I agree with both of you. In fact, I'm not sure that you two really disagree.

Seems to me that Mr. Crain says there's nothing wrong with an advertiser making a preemptive claim for some product feature, function or other capability even if a competitive product could make the same claim. I agree there's nothing wrong with promoting a benefit others have ignored or downplayed. It can be very smart. Or it can be lazy and dumb .*.*. as a dumb example, you won't gain much by proclaiming that your automobile has four wheels even if other advertisers are ignoring that claim.

Seems to me that Mr. Garfield says it is wrong to claim exclusivity for a feature, function or other capability that is common to your product and others. Absolutely correct. That's dishonest no matter how an ad may try to weasel-word the claim. Or, as noted, it can simply be a wasted effort.

And I agree with him on the tea example (Bob Garfield's Ad Review, "Tetley sinks from moronic to bogus," AA, Dec. 9). Maybe someone thought alliteration was more important than a real benefit. "Teeny, tiny, tea" is about as meaningful as "peevish, petty and petulant."

So . . . if there's a good, honest customer benefit floating around, unused, it's first-come, first-served. Proclaim that benefit long and loud . . . just don't claim that it's yours exclusively or folks will find out you're lying. Or being silly.

Play nice.

Richard Carlson

Geneseo, Ill.


In "Liquor industry gains in Congress" (Jan. 27, P. 41), U.S. Rep. Joe Kennedy (D., Mass.) will again introduce his proposal to restrict TV liquor advertising in February but is pushing for the first time this year a proposal for Congress to study the effect of TV liquor ads on underage drinking.

In F.Y.I. (Jan. 27, P. 46), both the Chex cereals account won by Campbell Mithun Esty, Minneapolis, and the Cookie Crisp account won by Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising, New York, previously were handled by D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles, St. Louis.

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