VIEWPOINT;LETTERS TO THE EDITOR;SEAGRAM'S GAMBLE;FREE SPEECH RIGHTS;BRADY GOT IT RIGHT;QUAKER'S GIVEAWAY; CORRECTIONS

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My advertising students and I have been following the Seagram controversy closely in the pages of Ad Age. What seems missing from the debate is Seagram's long history of "responsible drinking" ads, and how their current moves are gambling on that past reputation.

Since the '30s, Seagram has put its money into hard-hitting but tasteful ads to promote responsible drinking. In the '40s, they had the courage to salute and picture Ray Milland in these ads, an actor whose performance in "The Lost Weekend" made his face synonymous with alcohol abuse in the public eye. Last year they ran a full-page retrospective of these corporate image ads in The New Yorker's 75th anniversary issue. The retrospective went decade-by-decade right up to the present, showing Seagram's association with responsible drinking is not just historic, it's alive and kicking.

The new TV ads may be subtle, they may be legal, and they may be truthful, but it only takes one questionable move to overturn a gleaming and time-won reputation. Over the decades Seagram has carefully crafted an image of the most scru-pulous and impeccable ethical conduct in their ads. Not a bad little birthright. Let's hope they're getting a nice mess of pottage for it.

Sam Samuels

Instructor-media Studies

Department of Communication studies

University of Iowa

Iowa City

Steven Diamond's letter of Sept. 16 wondered why employees don't have the free speech rights "supposedly guaranteed to individuals in the Constitution. " It's because such rights aren't guaranteed. The First Amendment says Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech," and Supreme Court interpretations based on other Constitutional provisions apply the same to other government units. They do not apply them to private organizations or other nongovernment units. Granted that makes strange results such as that a private university may censor its student newspaper while my public university may not. But that's the law.

As to whether the government can "regulate corporations to protect children and society, " it can prohibit commercial speech if it is deceptive or for an illegal product, or if not, if the government can show a substantial interest that such prohibition will support while not constituting more extensive regulation than needed to do so. The chance that the government could make that showing on behalf of prohibiting all advertising is a proposition on which scarcely anyone familiar with ad law would bet.

Ivan L. Preston

Professor of advertising

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Jim Brady's column, "One pundit's advice" (AA, Nov. 4), was the best article I read throughout the entire election campaign.

He absolutely hit the nail on the head! I'm sorry that it came one day before the election. It might have benefited both candidates to read it.

My thanks to him for expressing what was scratching away in the back of my head.

Josh Scheckowitz

VP-sales, RTC East

New York

I enjoyed Rance Crain's bit of investment banking in his Oct. 28 column on Quaker and Pepsi. Unfortunately, his basic premise is flawed. "Gatorade could fix Pepsi's biggest problem-its weakness over-seas."

About five years ago, in what today could be cynically described as an anti-takeover defense, Quaker parceled-out the distribution of its Gatorade business to multiple overseas bottlers. This is the central reason, in my opinion, that the Dan Dorfman rumors (of Quaker's pending takeover by Coke) and this idea have no merit. Once you give away the bottling and distribution rights, it is almost impossible to put it all back together again.

Tim Ramey

Food industry analyst

Deutsche Morgan Grenfell

In F.Y.I. (Nov. 11, P. 62), Grey Advertising's third-quarter billings rose 5% to $1.22 billion.

In "PowerBar attracts big players hungry for chunk of market" (Nov. 4, P. 20), Needleman Flei-zach & Pilla, New York, created the PowerBar commercial featuring San Francisco 49ers quarterback Steve Young.

In "NFL, Sprint link for playoff promo" (Nov. 4, P. 53), the three network TV partners involved in the National Football League's first-ever playoff-branding promotion, "The NFL Playoffs: Destination New Orleans," are ABC, Fox and NBC. CBS is not an NFL broadcaster.

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