Letters, June 29, 2009

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RE: "In Defense of Experimental Advertising" (AdAge.com, June 23). As a former scientist, I believe there's a fundamental difference between scientists and non-scientists in their relationship to being able to predict things. By that I mean my experience suggests that advertising people are not given to saying, "I don't know. Let's try it and see if it works."

Somehow, our ingrained inferiority complexes make it impossible for us to admit that we simply don't know what effect an ad, much less a campaign, will have. For some reason, one group of us, the direct-marketing people, seems to have no such inferiority complex, and test things constantly. Interestingly enough, in my view, they are the only ones who can tell you with any authority what actually will work.

We have a lot of "growing up" to do. We don't really know what will work and what will not, and often spend a lot of time creating "ex post facto" explanations of advertising results.

Scientists make mistakes all the time. They know very well that it is often only through making mistakes that we stumble toward the light. To be sure, no one is satisfied with being right only 50% of the time (and many of us aren't right even that often), but the fact is we have to get to 50% right before we can get to 100% right. Indeed, it's unlikely we'll ever get all the way to 100%.

Tim Orr
Barnett Orr Marketing Group
Nashville, Tenn.

'Jon & Kate' not family-friendly

Why didn't TLC issue a warning that "some material may be inappropriate for younger viewers"; "contains adult themes"; "parental discretion advised" in advance of the June 22 episode? Two adults discussing the breakdown of their relationship, capped off by a separation/divorce announcement, is hardly "family-friendly."

Familes with young children who have followed this show are probably emotionally invested in the Gosselins, and Monday's news was probably disturbing/traumatic to unsuspecting and innocent kids.

Lisa Benoit
Worcester, Mass.

We'll survive only if we get crazy

RE: Bart Cleveland's "It's a Crazy Time, so Let's Get Crazy" (AdAge.com, June 22). When I got into advertising, I remember being thrilled to hear that crazy people like Jay Chiat and George Lois were not only welcome in the business but were driving the business. I couldn't agree more, Bart: With advertising in such a state of flux, now's definitely the time to get crazy.

Steven Stark
Fairfield, Conn.
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