VIEWPOINT: LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

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`Advocate' not a rival

I was puzzled by the story that purports to describe competition between The Advocate and Out for new gay ad categories (" `Advocate' battles `Out' for new gay ad categories," AA, Dec. 1). That we compete is a common misperception. But we're about as competitive as U.S. News & World Report and Vanity Fair.

The Advocate, published biweekly, focuses on news . . . Out, published monthly, is a general interest magazine that covers fashion, the arts, entertainment and political and social trends..

Readers read us for different reasons. And advertisers buy us for different reasons. We are so different in our editorial approach, for example, that a Simmons study of duplication in the gay and lesbian market shows that virtually all Advocate readers also read Out.

Otherwise, your story is encouraging . . . Our community needs a strong news magazine, and we're pleased by the success we see in [the Advocate's] pages.

Henry E. Scott

President, Out

New York

Esther Peterson

Esther Peterson, who died at 91 last month after a career as school teacher, union organizer and consumer activist, probably changed advertising as much as anyone in the Advertising Hall of Fame ("Change agent," AA, Jan. 5).

When President Lyndon Johnson named her his adviser on consumer affairs, he sensed a magic moment. TV was minting profits for marketers but living by frontier law. In the past, such moments produced historic reforms.

Esther Peterson had a litany of shopper complaints, beginning with deceptive packages and labels. She believed businessmen could be persuaded that it was neither good business nor good citizenship to create problems when they could be solving them.

She was blocked by industry lobbyists, who believed the threat would end if she got fired. They were right to the extent that Lyndon Johnson dumped her. But that ended nothing. She was replaced by others no less purposeful, and consumerism rode high well into the Nixon years.

The firing of Esther was a beginning rather than an ending. The Giant Food supermarket chain hired her as VP-consumer affairs, with its private brands as tools and its advertising at her disposal. Its house brands soon featured honest labels and packages; its detergents were environmentally safe; its shelves pioneered unit pricing; and nutritional labels were introduced.

These successes did more to change advertising and marketing than any laws she could have enacted. The entire food industry was soon doing all the things the trade associations resisted. She was consulted by other industries, including insurance and health.

In a 1981 interview with Advertising Age, she said consumerism prevailed "because politicians knew it spoke for the grass roots. How much better it would have been for business and the country if trade associations listened to their members instead of Washington lobbyists and lawyers."

A year ago, the old guard assembled to celebrate Esther's 90th birthday. Many have gone on to careers where they try to practice what she preached. I saw several who now work for associations that trembled at her heresies.

Stanley E. Cohen

Chevy Chase, Md.

Mr. Cohen, now retired, was Washington editor of Advertising Age from 1943 to 1984.

Promotion misjudged

We couldn't help but notice the front-page coverage of Pillsbury's decision to consolidate its promotional development with three agencies of record, ours being one of those agencies ("Pillsbury's $100 mil promo biz to 3 shops," AA, Dec. 15).

I also couldn't help but notice that with a couple of paragraphs at the conclusion of the article, the story set the business of promotion marketing back to a time before Sputnik.

According to Paul Kelly [president of Silvermine Consulting], "Unlike advertising, promotion is determined by what [sweepstakes, contest, etc.] is hot at the moment."

We sincerely doubt Pillsbury-or any other marketer-would devote "an exhaustive, half-year review" to a $100 million "seat-ofthe-pants proposition." Clearly, Pillsbury takes seriously its commitment to promotional marketing. And so do we.

In other words, like advertising, promotional marketing agencies conceive, develop and test concepts that are consistent with the brand's core equities, to leverage consumer awareness and motivate or modify behavior.

[For Mr. Kelly] to imply that promotion marketing is [all] about which widget is hot at any given moment is as naive and misleading as saying that successful advertising depends on the latest "shaky cam" technique.

Neil Contess

Principal-senior managing partner

Dugan Valva Contess

Morristown, N.J.

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