SEND IN THE ARF

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It seems the Magazine Publishers of America have another readership research brouhaha on their hands. Conde Nast Publications apparently has dropped Simmons Market Research Bureau's syndicated services, citing "budgetary reasons." Unfortunately for everyone involved, the move followed a leaked MPA draft report said to reflect negatively on Simmons.

The word being spread by industry sources is, quoting one, that "there is an agenda here and it is anti-Simmons...There is a very significant political component to what is going on."

This refers to the fact that the head of MPA's technical committee, which drafted the report, is a former employee of a research company taken over by Simmons in 1978. Simmons executives think the committee "skewed the deck" and so they don't want to appear before the committee's next proposed meeting, Oct. 5.

Said one ad agency executive, "We're perplexed. Hundreds of millions of dollars of decisions are based on using these services." It should be obvious to all that MPA should bring in an outsider to clear up this matter.

Yes, the buyers of advertising space deserve better than what by appearances may just be a petty dispute between the magazines and one of the industry's two key readership researchers. Is this a time for the Advertising Research Foundation, as "the bureau of standards for advertising research," to be called into action?

As one executive said, since the MPA "dug up this body, [it] has to figure out what they are going to do with it." And given the potential "political" circumstances involving its technical committee and Simmons, the next sound from MPA should be ARF-like in a bark for help.

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