LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Published on .

I was unbelievably impressed with Coca-Cola Co. President Steven Heyer's speech ("Heyer's calling: collaborate or die," AA, Feb. 10), his vision as well as his challenge to the industry. So naturally the subject of Randall Rothenberg's column caught my attention ("What Steve Heyer's war cry means for ad agencies now," Viewpoint, AA, Feb. 17).

After reading his analysis, I'm convinced I must have read a different speech. The speech I read challenged the entertainment industry to work with agencies and corporations to create relevant and timely consumer contact innovations. Instead of building a cooperative relationship with Vine Street, Mr. Rothenberg challenges the ad world to "find writers, artists and producers who can compete with Hollywood's best."

So now the enemy is Hollywood? The dominance of reality TV may have put a host of writers out of work, but what is an unemployed sitcom writer going to do at an ad agency?

Mr. Rothenberg's take on Mr. Heyer's words illustrates exactly why advertising has been so averse to this overdue revolution. We're an industry of egos and want-to-be artists. Are we in the art business? That's the paradigm we're challenged to shift. We're in the business of building brands. Mr. Rothenberg is looking for ways ad agencies can be in the middle of it all-to be in control of the creative product. Mr. Heyer is telling us building brands means relinquishing some creative control. Ad agencies have to check the egos and take on the role of facilitators.

It will be intelligent and forward-thinking media agencies that take on the bigger roles in Mr. Heyer's brave new world. It's the agencies with the "Media Department" sitting next to "Accounting" that will find themselves in trouble. If they take Mr. Rothenberg's advice, they'll busy themselves with a scriptwriter-hiring spree. But soon enough they'll wake up and realize the old model just collapsed on top of them.

Ben Garvin

Associate Director

StarcomIP

Chicago

Would David Ogilvy like Steve Heyer's vision?

Re: Randall Rothenberg's column "What Steve Heyer's war cry means for ad agencies now" (Viewpoint, AA, Feb. 17). I remembered an old Forbes article I kept on David Ogilvy. Needless to say, he was perhaps even more doctrinaire than Rosser Reeves on the subject of the role of advertising in communicating a "selling proposition."

The Forbes writer describes Ogilvy's take on the ads of the day: "... he thinks too much effort is spent on advertising that is funny or stresses special effects, and not enough time is devoted to creating ads that sell a product. `Every ten or 15 years, advertising gets a disease called entertainment. It's very bad because the people who do it have absolutely no interest in selling anything. They don't think of themselves as salesmen. They think of themselves as entertainers and geniuses."'

Michael Prewitt

Dana Communications

Hopewell, N.J.

Next logical step is a Coca-Cola sitcom

If one were to extrapolate the thesis Randall Rothenberg puts forward in "What Steve Heyer's war cry means for ad agencies now" (Viewpoint, AA, Feb. 17), you might assume the next logical step would be for Coca-Cola Co. to develop a sitcom story line in collaboration with United Talent Agency or one of the other major talent agencies in Hollywood with access to first rate talent.

The concept revolves around the humorous tribulations of a Coca-Cola route deliverer, going from supermarket to supermarket to deliver his products. There would be endless opportunities for shots of his heavily branded truck, his various branded products and the very conspicuous Coca-Cola logo on his uniform. The hilarious interactions with his family and customers would distract viewers from the almost continuous exposure of the Coca-Cola brand logo.

Now that I think of it, I may peddle this idea to a TV network myself.

Gene Secunda

Professor

Marketing and Media Studies

New York University

New York

Sales impact not only benefit of `Catfight' ad

Rance Crain is right (`"Relevance' is operative word in `Catfight' or chip-dip ads," Viewpoint, AA, Jan. 27). The Miller Lite beer sex ad probably won't cause an immediate rise in sales.

But he is missing two important points.

First, Miller has gotten so much free press out of it. It has certainly raised more product awareness than Miller's old, jock-centered ads.

Also, there are certain intangibles. Perhaps younger people who saw this ad will remember it and it will affect their decision making when they get older. (I still remember the Noxzema ads with Joe Namath and Farrah Fawcett!) This ad may change future attitudes.

Plus, if this ad truly fails to generate sales, then Miller may know its problem lies in its positioning or in the product itself, rather than in the promotion.

Second, this is a damn funny ad. It is a piece of art that will be talked about years from now in the same way as the Macintosh 1984 ad. It is sexy, ironic, absurd and hilarious. This ad could play again 10 years from now and still have the same impact.

Advertising isn't solely about sales.

John Barillo

Indianapolis, Ind.

Correction

* In "P&G claims Iams is top dog in pet food" (March 10, P. 4), the "all-channel sales" data provided by Procter & Gamble Co. and cited in the article did not include sales data for sales in Wal-Mart Stores and club stores, P&G said. It said the data it provided included Information Resources Inc. scan-ner data plus survey and audit data for pet specialty stores and veter-inary offices. The market share figures and Iams' market position that were reported in "Pet food all-channel market" (the chart accompanying the story) are unlikely to substantially change if data for Wal-Mart and club sales were included. Executives familiar with the pet food industry said Iams' shares in Wal-Mart are believed to be as good or better than its shares in food, drug and other mass outlets.

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