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The advertising business has become fair game for a number of people taking pot shots at the industry. I've taken a few, myself, at the creative excess that has run rampant through what has become an awards-driven business. The two most prominent shooters were my ex-partner Al Ries [co-author of the book "The Fall of Advertising and the Rise of PR"], and Sergio Zyman of Coca-Cola fame [author of the book "The End of Advertising as We Know It"]. One said the business was in decline. The other proclaimed the end has come.

Neither was totally correct. Advertising as we know it is still a force if done correctly. Maybe it's time to stop all the doom and gloom and talk about the positive side of what can still be a powerful tool to drive a brand.

Positive: Advertising builds fast awareness. Word of mouth is very powerful. Third party PR is wonderful. Guerilla marketing is interesting. But they are all painfully slow. Advertising is the quickest way to get out your message to a maximum number of prospects. In this age of intense competition, time is not on the side of a brand.

Positive: Advertising can build credentials. My ex-partner argued forcefully that advertising has no credibility. That could be the case for bad advertising. But advertising that establishes a brand's leadership can build a lot of credibility. People tend to buy what others buy and advertising can tell that story.

Positive: Advertising can dramatize your difference. If you have point of difference, good advertising can dramatize it in a memorable way. Volvo once dramatized its safety by parking one next to a tank and saying: "The execution is different but the concept is basically the same."

Positive: Advertising can deliver news. PR is about news, but good advertising can also be about important news. Crest built its brand around the news of "Triumph over tooth decay." Unfortunately, they stopped delivering news as the years went on. It's one of the reasons Colgate is back in first place. No news is bad news for brands as it opens the door for competitors. Any commercial that began with "Before you push that button, we have some important news" would stop viewers in their tracks.

Positive: Advertising can create a rationale. No matter what you are selling, you need to supply a reason to buy. A $5,000 Rolex is an emotional purchase that is made to impress friends and neighbors. But I still need a reason to buy one. Advertising can supply that rationale: "A Rolex takes a year to build." The same goes for an expensive Mercedes: "Engineered like no other car in the world."

You won't notice that idea around any more. That's because marketers and agencies get bored and want to keep changing the basic rationale of a brand. The next stop is ineffective and wasteful advertising that only plays into the hands of the "advertising is bad" sharpshooters.

Jack Trout

Trout & Partners

Old Greenwich, Conn.

Collaboration vital for creative, media

With great interest and support, I read Scott Donaton's recent Viewpoint column "Debate on planning's return dominates London ad chatter" (AA, Jan 27). Having worked on both sides of the Atlantic and at both unbundled and integrated media-services companies, I can speak from experience that our sector has witnessed some growing pains in the last few years.

I think his column gets at two key issues affecting the media practice today. First, what is the impact of unbundling on the way in which media functions relative to the rest of the marketing communications industry? And, second, how do media and creative services collaborate for our clients' brands?

We are doing a terrible injustice to the young talent of today (tomorrow's leaders and influencers), by indoctrinating them into a business culture built on silos (the media person does this, account services does that, creative teams are responsible for X, etc.). Our industry will weaken if we feel it necessary to carve out the various parts and force them to survive in isolation-and, more importantly, our clients will suffer.

Integration is a reality and is quickly becoming the currency for success in our business (and we are already seeing signs of this from the client, agency and content side) and for our clients. It is our responsibility to ensure that our young advertising professionals understand the vital and integrated role of media within the overall marketing discipline.

Robin Kent


Universal McCann

New York

Let the media planners, creatives play together

I could not agree more regarding Scott Donaton's recent column on unbundled media and the plight of multinational agency networks ("Debate on planning's return dominates London ad chatter," Viewpoint, AA, Jan. 27). I am a media-planning professional who was raised within Young &Rubicam media, did a stint at Time Warner and then returned to Y&R's Media Edge. So I have lived through the unbundling. I am now a founding member of Y&R's Brand Buzz, which is already adopting the model of encouraging creative development and media planning to collaborate and live together.

Because creative and media are urged to play together, we are able to develop strategically sound and innovative communication ideas. Hopefully, I will see the rebundling as well. Great column and thanks for recognizing media planning as an important spoke in the wheel. Without it, all that great creative would never get seen!

Jennifer A. Kohl

Executive Director

Integrated Media

Brand Buzz

New York


* In "Al Jazeera rival hits Middle East" (Feb. 3, P. 1), TN Communications of Cairo, Egypt, was incorrectly identified as a unit of Interpublic Group of Cos. It is an affiliated agency of Omnicom Group's DDB Worldwide.

* In "Direct response getting respect" [Jan. 20, P. 4], the name of A.J. Khubani, president of TeleBrands, was misspelled.

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