Letters, May 25, 2009

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FDA should regulate food claims

RE: "Cheerios First in FDA Firing Line. Who's Next?" (AA, May 18). First, I'll admit that I earn a living in the pharma sector and have had this biased beef for quite some time. That said, I think it's about time the FDA started regulating claims made by the food industry. Realistically, these claims have the potential to do more harm than any DTC communication for a prescription drug. Unlike pharma, where consumers are driven to their doctor -- a learned intermediary -- for a full discussion on appropriate use, potential benefits and risks before gaining access, food claims drive consumers directly to the product. Worse yet, as in the case with Cheerios, people with a serious health risk like high cholesterol feel they are making a valid health decision by substituting their meds with a bowl of cereal.

Some might say that Cheerios pose no potential danger and this is reason enough to leave them alone. I would argue that the uninformed assumption that they are doing tremendous good, especially to someone who needs significant control, is dangerous.

I have to side with the FDA here. If you claim that you can prevent a heart attack, you're a drug. And you (or at least your claims) should be regulated as such.

Michael Sanzen
Chief creative officer
Concentric
New York


KFC efforts far from a fiasco

RE: "Grilled Chicken a Kentucky Fried Fiasco" (AA, May 11). KFC a fiasco? Really? As a consumer, and as a rusty old marketing guy, I would give the KFC brand permission to do just about anything under the "chicken" umbrella, so for me, "grilled" is a perfectly reasonable proposition.

When I first saw the ads, and the product, my reaction was "Yeah, that makes sense, and something new to think about."

Your article made it sound like KFC had just launched a new line of motor oil. "Off-brand?" Really? Seems pretty much on-brand to me. And regarding the Oprah free-chicken event: Sure, you'd ideally like to be able to fulfill consumer demand, but last I checked, if Oprah talks about it and endorses it, it generally does pretty well. Her car giveaway a couple years also had a couple bugs associated with it, but I suspect in the final analysis, Pontiac did pretty well in terms of exposure, goodwill for the brand, and they probably moved a few extra cars, too.

I suspect KFC will survive just the same.

David G. Wiser
Principal partner
Wiser Partners
Cincinnati


Google's trademark move doesn't help

This is a debate that needs to be solved in Congress. The courts have already held the advertiser who purchases the trademark is liable and it is illegal to purchase the trademark. So far, the only winner is Google, as it drives up the costs for brands to use their own words. The practice is illegal in France. Google has also just been sued in a class-action lawsuit in Texas over this issue.
Cheryl Hodgson
Beverly Hills, Calif.


United, not TWA, had 'Take Me Along' promo

RE: "Readers Present Picks for Advertising Age's Annals of Marketing Disasters," (AA, May 18). The TWA "marketing disaster" story told by David Haspel actually referred to the United Airlines "Take Me Along" promotion run in the '70s under the "Fly The Friendly Skies of United" campaign created by Leo Burnett.

The promotion was wildly successful and ran its intended course. The thank-you-notes detail is true, but as far as anyone at United or Leo Burnett knew, there was no brand damage. If anything, United's brand perception was enhanced by the story.

Bob Barocci
President
Advertising Research Foundation
and
Former international president
Leo Burnett International


CORRECTIONS

RE: "Marketers Fight for Right to Buy Shows, not Networks" (AA, May 18). The story incorrectly said Optimedia U.S.'s 2009 Content Power Ratings were compared with those from 2008. In fact, Optimedia compared its 2009 Content Power Ratings with Nielsen's program rankings for 2008. Nielsen ranked "Prison Break" No. 81 in 2008, "The Office" No. 69, "Lost" No. 22 and "30 Rock" No. 62.


CLARIFICATION

NBC Universal Cable Entertainment President Bonnie Hammer's quote in the "Entertainment A-List" profile of USA's "Burn Notice" (AA, May 18) comparing USA to "our viewers' favorite old shoe" was in reference to the network's programming lineup before its "Characters Welcome" rebrand in 2004, not the current programming slate.

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