LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

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In "Why some agencies fail at integrated marketing" (Letters to the Editor, AA, April 21), regarding the story "Integration still a pipe dream for many" (AA, March 10), Hy Haberman of True North Advertising Group in Toronto cites "two factors rarely identified as causes of integration failure." Those factors are failure to staff with integrated thinkers and a focus solely on the end consumer, according to Mr. Haberman. Let me point out two more reasons why mega-agency integration is a myth.

First, the purpose of assembling diverse marketing entities under one umbrella was not to provide clients with the broadest range of marketing services. It was to drive revenues and provide stockholders with the highest possible shareholder value: growth, in other words.

Second, integration in the mega-agencies failed because, rather than creating cooperation and synergies among their various entities, it created competition among them for greater shares of the client's budget for their particular specialties.

On the other hand, integration has been alive and well in small- to mid-sized independent agencies for years. Survival dictated it. To compete against the promise of mega-agency "integration," independents have had to hire smarter, bringing in non-advertising specialists or forming their own subsidiaries for such disciplines as direct marketing, public relations, customer relations management, point-of-sale, etc.

Integration is not that much of a mystery. It's a matter of recognizing client needs and finding ways to answer them. That's why there are so many independent agencies among Ad Age's top 500, and more are being formed every week as the big guys downsize.

Gary Lessner

President

Transworld Advertising Agency Network

Fort Myers, Fla.

Message to ad business in choice of Y&R's CEO

The appointment of Ann Fudge as CEO of Young & Rubicam is great news for the agency, wonderful news for its clients and, most importantly, fabulous news for the advertising industry.

Sir Martin Sorrell made a brilliant decision when he decided to place Ms. Fudge at the helm of Y&R. She will bring intelligence, a keen understanding of client needs and an intuitive insight to the creative process. I have had the pleasure of knowing Ann for a number of years. She is a neighbor in Westport, Conn., and we were both honored recipients of the American Advertising Federation Diversity Award on the same evening.

Her appointment sends an important message to the ad agency business. Open your doors to all, regardless of color, ethnicity, gender, race or nationality, and you will bring a new, much-needed energy and excitement to the business.

Harold Levine

Westport, Conn.

Mr. Levine is the founder of the former New York ad agency Levine, Huntley, Schmidt & Beaver.

Super Bowl, Type 1 not a good match

Re: "Levi's CEO blames slow launch on spots" (AA, March 31).

Why was Levi Strauss & Co. running Type 1 jeans advertising on the Super Bowl? At just under $2 million a pop (plus production), that's an expensive way to reach Type 1's primary target of 15-to-25-year-old, early trend adopters who want cutting edge clothing (only a small percentage of Super Bowl viewers). The place to run Type 1 advertising would seem to be where 15-to-24-year-olds congregate, such as MTV. The Super Bowl is a more appropriate place to advertise Levi's Red Tab jeans, a product more targeted at mainstream mass consumers.

If the Type 1 ad was "not successful," what was the objective on the creative brief? If it said something like re-position the Levi's brand as strong and sexy to younger consumers, stay focused in cool, stylish vehicles targeting youth. And measure success through perception tracking studies with 15-to-24-year-olds to see if marketing efforts are resulting in changes in perceptions from "my dad's jeans" to "these are cool and sexy."

If the objective on the creative brief was to drive sales volume for the Levi's brand, then the strategy was off. The Type 1 product shown may communicate that the brand is changing and is now hip and sexy; but Type 1 doesn't appeal to the masses. I wouldn't expect traditional advertising to drive sales.

More focus should be on the elements of the integrated marketing communications mix that drive retail traffic and sales volume. Show in the ad the name of the retail stores that carry the product; offer events and in-store programs to get people to the stores; use incentives to get the retailers to push the product; promote a Web site address for direct online sales at Macy's.

Levi Strauss has many challenges. It's easy to say what they should be doing. I wish them luck as well as smart strategic marketing. We are all rooting for this American icon and would hate to see it fall.

Marla Showfer

Professor-Brand Management and Integrated Marketing Communications

University of San Francisco

University of California-Berkeley Extension

Golden Gate University

San Francisco

A winning philosophy: study client's business

Re: Rance Crain's "Agencies fall short at selling where it counts: to clients" (Viewpoint, AA, May 5). When I was a VP at Golin/Harris working on the McDonald's business, our president, Tom Harris, told all account people working for the agency that we should know more about our client's business than the client does. Because most of us bought into that philosophy, Golin/Harris was, and still is, one of the best PR shops in the business.

Bud Jones

VP-Public Relations

Loyola University

Chicago

Corrections

* In "Packaging is the capper" (May 5, P. 22), Euro RSCG Meridian President-CEO Mike Shinall was wrongly identified as Marc Shinall.

* In "CNN, Fox, MSNBC vie to stand out in upfront" (May 5, P. 34), it was incorrectly reported that "The O'Reilly Factor" on Fox News airs at 7 p.m. ET. It airs at 8 p.m.

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