NOTING THE DIFFERENCES; CYBERFAN NEEDS MORE; TOO MUCH HOOEY?; WATCH OUT FOR LANHAM ACT; TOBACCO ADS OFFENSIVE; GORDON MINTER'S LEGACY

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In response to the Oct. 24 article "Infomercial, home shopping media skirmish over turf": Bob Perkins, president of QVC's QDirect, was on target with his observation that marketing on a home shopping network to an established customer base is very different than an impulse-driven infomercial sale to somebody channel surfing.

In the first case, the continuity customer is ready to buy and asking, "What will I buy today?" during each 5-to-15 minute presentation. In the second, the customer is caught off guard and must be lured to watch, enticed to buy a product and repeatedly pushed to close the sale, in a more difficult and complex 30-minute selling process.

Very different! In all the trade press, that point is rarely made or even understood by many in this new age of electronic retailing.

Steve Silberger

Director-sales and marketing

Buckeye Communications

Media, Pa.

I am a big fan of your Interactive Media & Marketing section and I read it word for word every week. However, I have one suggestion-please print the Internet address of the subjects of your articles, at least when describing a commercial site on the worldwide web. For example, in your Oct. 24 issue, there is a very interesting story on Time Warner's new WWW site. After reading it I wanted to check out the site for myself, but you neglected to print the address.

Bethany Andrews

Associate marketing manager

Thompson Publishing Group

(Received via Prodigy)

Editor's note: Time Warner's address is http://www.timeinc.com.

Kudos to Rance Crain for the dose of reality in his Oct. 24 column. The information superhighway is the most overhyped bit of marketing trendiness since "globalization."

Ironically, one of the most important audiences for this particular column is just down the hall-those Ad Age ballyhooers churning out the hype and hooey of your own Interactive Media & Marketing pages, replete with "news" that isn't and graphs that mislead.

If all this info superhighway stuff is soooo important, why don't your stories-such as the Time Warner Internet opening-include the URL for said service so we one-half-of-one percent (that's right: 0.5%) of all U.S. households with Internet access can access it? (See letter above. Ed.)

Curtis Wright

President, Battenberg, Fillhardt

& Wright Advertising

San Jose, Calif.

(Received via Prodigy)

This is in response to your interesting "Marbles in the soup" article (AA, Oct. 17). I am an advertising and trademark lawyer who has represented major advertisers accused of false advertising or who were accusing others of false advertising.

The biggest trick and the best treat an advertiser could face these days is not an action by the Federal Trade Commission under the FTC Act but, rather, a claim of false advertising under Section 43(a) of the Lanham Act.

Unlike the FTC Act, Section 43(a) allows a party to sue a competitor for an injunction (read restraining order) or money damages for a "false or misleading representation of fact" of its own or the competitor's goods, services or commercial activities. ... This powerful law has been used, with varying success, in the aspirin wars, motor oil wars and credit card wars.

Section 43(a) is incredibly powerful for many reasons. First, it is the aggrieved competitor who can take action itself, without relying on the government. Second, sanctions are potentially quite severe-an injunction prohibiting the wrongful advertising or, sometimes, ordering corrective advertising and money damages as well as attorneys' fees.

Finally, the wrongful conduct covered is broad, including comparative and traditional advertising in all media, package design and labeling, and other untruthful communications to customers or potential customers-such as correspondence.

Because the penalties are severe, Section 43(a) should make all advertisers leery, and they should insure that their advertising is truthful and not misleading. Puffing is OK, but don't cross the line.

Andrew Hartman

Willian Brinks Hofer

Gilson & Lione

Chicago

I wonder how many people are getting sick and tired of the R.J. Reynolds and Philip Morris ads attacking more and more of the regulations limiting where smokers can smoke.

Reynolds' recent ad, "Where Exactly Is the Land of the Free?" shows the freeing of citizens in East Germany and Communist Russia, and democracy's victory in South Africa. The ad states, "Nationwide, reins on U.S. smokers' freedom tighten."

This linking I find extremely offensive and qualifies the ad for advertising's Hall of Shame.

Regulations restricting where smokers can smoke expand the freedoms of non-smokers to cleaner air.

Stewart M. Lee

Professor emeritus, Geneva College

Beaver Falls, Pa.

One of the giants of early television commercial production passed away in October, almost unnoticed.

His name: Gordon Minter. He was co-founder of the College of Fine Arts at the University of Texas and the father of commercial production in Hollywood.

At the inception of commercial television, Gordon directed and produced all of the early film commercials for Leo Burnett Co. For more than 20 years he put his personal stamp on the majority of commercials for Burnett clients, including Kellogg, Green Giant, Marlboro and Pillsbury.

From his educational beginnings, which included a master of fine arts degree from Yale University, and as co-producer of the Westchester Playhouse in Mount Kisco, N.Y., Gordon brought a civility to the production of Burnett's early commercials. His professional life influenced an entire generation of TV's early commercial directors and editors. His daughter, Nikki, carries on the tradition in Gearhart, Ore., where she heads a commercial production company.

His passing should not go unnoticed.

Hooper White

Hooper White Co.

Barrington, Ill.

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