Editorial: A 'to-do' list for new year

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This new year is full of opportunities for marketers, and for the advertising and marketing services industry that serves them. Beyond issues particular to individual companies, there is a larger agenda for advertisers and marketers in 2003-matters whose outcome can shape the business for years to come. They merit-even demand-the involvement of top executives and all those who would consider themselves industry leaders. That list should include:

* Reshaping the TV industry: The Federal Communications Commission this year will debate media ownership rule changes that could let a handful of acquisitive media companies assemble significant local-market ad power through unprecedented combinations of broadcast TV, cable TV and metro daily newspapers. Whatever the final result at the FCC, competition in local TV ad markets must be protected, and advertisers and media buyers should champion that cause in Washington.

* Remaking the U.S. Postal Service: It is a vital part of the U.S. marketing infrastructure, but 30 years after "reform" created the U.S. Postal Service out of the old Post Office Department, the mail system is floundering again. President Bush has formed an independent panel to come up with a plan this year. Marketers should support giving postal management the powers to cut more costs and compete more effectively.

* Reinforcing the First Amendment: The California Supreme Court has said that marketers that speak out when their business policies are attacked can be sued for "false advertising." Nike, the defendant in the case, has taken it to the U.S. Supreme Court, where its appeal deserves marketer attention and support at the highest levels.

Two very tough business years should not dull the basic optimism of the advertising business. Nor do the immediate, and pressing, business concerns of today lessen the need to tackle the bigger issues that will affect marketing for years to come.

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