THE NETWORK PRICING RIDDLE;DISPUTES FRAGRANCE ARTICLE;MORE THAN ONE;AGING SHOULD BE CELEBRATED;SIDING WITH THE YAHOOS;THE '50S ARE LONG GONE;DO ADS WORK OR DON'T THEY?;

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This fall's huge price hike for prime-time TV shows is, indeed, a riddle. But there looms a much larger puzzle: Why did agencies and certain advertiser media service groups permit the Big Four to raise prices to almost/often more than double-digit levels?

Advertisers this year are troubled; most have found it difficult to raise their own prices 2% to 4%. The consumer balks, continuing to seek out discounts and deals before they purchase anything.

And when agencies walked into the '95/'96 upfront marketplace they knew ahead of time that second-quarter data confirmed the inexorable slide in ratings' households and the coveted 18-to-49 age groups.

Yet, like lemmings to the sea they followed the wails of the network fearmongers and are now in deep water. The reality: Networks (aided by agencies who relish long-term, firmed-in advertiser commitments) have no right to boast that only they can attract the big numbers, therefore big prices.

An average 4.7 adult rating isn't that much mass when you're paying over $100,000 for it. And if a marketer still requires a 60% target audience reach and a 3.0 frequency (180 target points) to be effective during a key selling period, then think of the now-enormous price tab to secure same and hope to sell product.

Isn't it time that the very top client marketing people, who are so busy downsizing and consolidating in order to keep profits up due to flat dollar sales volume, now begin to look seriously at how they're buying today's network TV? And work to keep prices down there as well? And seek better ways to solve that big cost riddle?

Herb Maneloveg

Maneloveg Marketing & Media

Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

I was interviewed for the MarkeTrends article "Smelling trouble" (AA, Sept. 11). It contains a number of inaccuracies.

1. I am not an "anti-fragrance activist" [and] I did not characterize myself as such.....I am a writer who has published extensively on environment and health issues, including the health effects of fragrance. My work is factual, not ideological, in nature.

2. I serve on the public information committee of the Human Ecology Action League. Despite the impression conveyed in the article, it is not an "anti-fragrance activist/zealot/crusader group."

3. Your reporter may have inferred that I "deem chemically compounded fragrance to be superfluous" but I certainly never said so. I believe that I did not imply it, either.....The statement suggests that while "chemical" compounds (I think the reporter means "synthetic" compounds) may be objectionable, natural compounds are not. This is not true.....Biologically active substances, regardless of their source, are biologically active substances.

4. Your reporter may have again inferred that I "consider" fragrance to be an "air pollutant," "as objectionable as exhaust fumes," but, again, I never said so and I believe I did not imply it.

5. I never made the statement attributed to me at the end of the article .....the topic of currently marketed vanilla-based fragrances came up [and] this prompted a comment from me that vanilla extract is rumored to have been used as an inexpensive fragrance in economically depressed areas of the U.S. at various times in the past. This clearly does not mean that vanilla extract used as a fragrance would not be objectionable, while vanilla-based fragrances would be. Rather, both uses, insofar as they have a negative impact on the health of susceptible people, are problematical. The point I was making was about the comparative price of the product from the grocery store versus the product marketed as fragrance.

Louise Kosta

Endwell, N.Y.

I was surprised by a statement in Advertising Age that a magazine launched Sept. 19 "is currently the only English-language Hispanic title targeting the upscale market" ("Hispanics attract publishers' notice," AA, Oct. 2). "Only," in journalism, is a dangerous word. Hispanic Business, founded in 1979, is an English-language magazine with a national circulation of 200,000. Our target audience is business owners, executives and professions -very much upscale. Had you referred to the most recent SRDS Hispanic Media & Market Source directory, under the Consumer Master Index, you would have found Hispanic Business and other English-language Hispanic titles.

Hector D. Cantu

Managing editor

Hispanic Business

Santa Barbara, Calif.

It is not that "U.S. women have a severe problem with aging" (Beauty Marketing, AA, Sept. 18), but rather in the way aging women are portrayed by the media! Television and print ads tell us that the natural aging process is unattractive, while the emphasis is put on youth as the standard of beauty and worth. In contrast, when older men are represented in the media, they are most often shown as distinguished, wise and handsome.

How many ads feature women as adventurous entrepreneurs or as fixed-income pensioners who are vulnerable and dependent? Are older women shown as active and athletic, or as frail and lonely persons whose sexual personae miraculously disappears with her hormones? Are we shown as political activists and leaders, or persons whose voices are lost among the stereotypes created by our youth-obsessed culture?

As baby boomers age, their ability to embark on an exciting and challenging new journey will depend on debunking the myths and stereotypes created by the media that still portray age only with dying and not with discovery. Indeed, research has shown that the downhill slide long associated with age is not inevitable-and that between the ages of 50 and 75 or older, many use the gift of time to start new careers and explore exciting opportunities to love, dream and work.

Aging does not just have to be portrayed as "a natural part of life." Aging is a part of life and should be celebrated in the media as a time of beauty, wisdom and purpose-and not necessarily with "carefully chosen, young-looking over-50 role models," but with real people living long and fulfilling lives!

Marion E. Gold

Marion Gold & Co.

Scottsdale, Ariz.

As right-wing zeitgeist sweeps America, it is perhaps understandable that the dons of Adland profess outrage at Calvin Klein for his so-called "kiddie porn" ads.

You don't want to appear insensitive to public opinion, however outrageously misinformed, and references to Klein's "rather narrow social and cultural orbit" (in Fred Danzig's "Sidebars" Oct. 2) help foster the necessary impression that adpeople are jes' normal Americans instead of members of the hated Cultural Elite.

But Danzig takes this pandering a tad far in his lead, blaming Klein for anticipated FBI meddling in ad content ("Thank you, Calvin Klein, for providing the advertising business with its newest creative review board: the FBI"). Does Mr. Danzig really believe that, if Mr. Klein creates something that the government decides to censor, he is himself responsible for the censorship? This is rather like blaming Bertolt Brecht for the Third Reich.

The reams of abuses you've thus far heaped on Mr. Klein have, I should think, provided sufficient evidence that the industry sides with the yahoos and dittoheads. Let's not overdo it. Our intelligence has been insulted enough.

Roy Edroso

New York

Many ad restrictions

President Clinton's courageous move to restrict the promotion of tobacco to children has provoked cries that tobacco advertising is protected by the First Amendment.

If the First Amendment applied to tobacco, tobacco ads could not have been banned from radio and television for the past 20 years. If limiting tobacco billboards to a black and white text-only format is censorship, why did we long ago accept similar restrictions on the advertising of stocks and bonds? If the First Amendment provides for unrestricted promotions of all legal products, why have we accepted extensive restrictions on the promotion of life-saving prescription drugs? Isn't it funny that restrictions that have been accepted for decades on other products suddenly become a threat to free speech when applied to America's most deadly product, tobacco.

Dr. J. R. DiFranza

VP, Stop Teenage Addiction to Tobacco

Worcester, Mass.

Jim Brady, get your head out of the clouds and into the '90s. Your line of thinking ("Meet Monsieur John Ford," AA, Aug. 21) is akin to those who would like to return to the "simpler life" of the 1950s.

In France, the '50s were a time when avant-garde film included Truffaut, Godard, etc. What must the columns of that time said? (Please give me some liberty here). "So here we have the most cultivated and glorious city in the world and it now mimics the gangster culture of the big American city."

"And you thought we only exported Coca-Cola." Yeah, right. French film has been influenced by American film (read: culture) since the advent of the Hollywood studio.

I applaud filmmakers tackling the socio-economic issues that surround them. "Young Americans used to go to Paris to become Hemingwa.....and drink at Harry's bar or the Ritz....." When a cup of coffee today costs $4, one has to be a rather privileged struggling artist to survive in Paris.

Your tone and attitude echo that of LePen-send les Noirs back home and leave la France pour la France. Small mindedness like that isn't where the world is headed, and you're in for a real surprise if you believe it is. Welcome to the post-modern era.

Jonathan Brauer

Minneapolis

In your Aug. 14 editorial about cigarette advertising you state: "No compelling evidence ties advertising to the increase in underage smoking."

In many other editorials, you have defended advertising's role in building brands.

Either advertising works or it doesn't. Which is it?

Is profitability your only standard? Shame. As the voice of the industry, you carry a special responsibility to speak out for the nobility of our work. If you fail to set high standards, then you help bring on the very government regulation you abhor.

Constance J. Sidles

Production consultant

Seattle

Advertising Age welcomes letters to the editor. Address letters to Advertising Age, Viewpoint Editor, 740 Rush St., Chicago 60611. Fax: (312) 649-5331. Letters can also be posted through the Ad Age Bulletin Board on Prodigy, or by Prodigy E-Mail at EHBU73A@prodigy.com.

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