LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

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With the announcement by AOL Time Warner's America Online [that it will] eliminate pop-up ads ("AOL launches 8.0 and bans pop-up ad sales," AdAge.com QwikFIND aao10y) and EarthLink's earlier decision to distribute pop-up blocking software, many online consumers are celebrating the demise of what many consider an annoyance.

As the death knell tolls for the future of this form of advertising, savvy marketers need not be concerned. The Internet has matured as an advertising medium and more effective methods have evolved to selectively target the right customers.

Firms with interactive-advertising expertise develop creative that brings brands alive, attracts attention, informs and even entertains, and seasoned media buyers understand the nuances of strategic and contextual media placement.

Good advertising, regardless of the venue, should entice the prospect to take action instead of creating ire among the majority who encounter it. Clicking on an ad or choosing to request more information engages the consumer in the brand experience. This process provides distinct advantages and is only one benefit that showcases the dynamic potential of interactive marketing.

Michael Koziol

CEO

Ant Farm Interactive

Atlanta

Rap on liberal-arts majors unjustified

I agree with Jim Richman's advocacy for the development of a commerce-communications program ("Ad studies need home but `j-school' isn't it," Letters to the Editor, AA, Oct. 14). However, his effort to prove his case by disparaging liberal-arts majors weakens his argument.

Communications skills are certainly not the exclusive domain of graduate studies. In fact, some of the most talented people I've worked with in the last 20 years have been liberal-arts majors. And the most talented person I've worked with did not even attend college-he started in the mailroom.

Ideas, creatively formed and cogently stated, are the lifeblood of advertising. Professional training can certainly help, but what our industry doesn't need is more formulaic thinking. Or adherence to a new caste system intended to rival the dominance of the MBA on the client side.

In the politicization of argument in today's society, it seems necessary to shoot first, then aim. In this case, liberal-arts majors are an undeserving target for Mr. Richman.

Rand Pearsall

President

Oasis Advertising

New York

Thanks for praise for Aflac duck ads

I was reading Bob Schmetterer's wonderful article in Ad Age and was thrilled to read his comments about our Aflac work ("Courage is the key today," Viewpoint, AA, Oct. 14).

People seem to identify with our "underduck," although as of late he has become Ben Affleck's worst nightmare. People magazine recently compared Ben to our Aflac duck, pointing out that, although our duck has never laid an egg, Affleck was in "Reindeer Games."

Thanks so much to Bob for the kind words and I wish him continued success with all the great creative he has done over the years.

Linda Kaplan Thaler

President-CEO

Kaplan Thaler Group

New York

Is `creativity' key to agency success?

I want to question Randall Rothenberg's implicit argument in his column about the new head of McKinney & Silver ("Brinegar's mission is to make McKinney king of creativity," Viewpoint, AA, Sept. 16).

He asserts "creativity is the sine qua non for ad industry success." A few lines above that, he describes the "cubist olive" and the aspirations of [Brad Brinegar], the new head of McKinney & Silver, that his agency become one of the five or six agencies that set the intellectual tone and pace of the industry.

I fully respect the importance of creativity. Clients want sales, and sales result from creativity. But I wonder if there are any facts to back up his first assertion: that an agency's success is the result of its creativity.

Often, advertising executives say creativity is what their clients want. I don't think so. I don't think that clients even understand creativity (at least the kind found at advertising agencies). If an employee of a client really knew about and cared about creativity, he or she would work at an agency instead. Employees of clients know their business, and most of the time that isn't creativity (at least of the kind that is found at agencies.)

Ultimately, what I'm looking for is an indication that clients award their business on the basis of an agency's "creativity." Having seen the process a few times from the inside, I don't think that's what happens.

A casual review of new-business assignments in Advertising Age suggests creativity isn't very important. But I'd like to go beyond the anecdotal. I guess successful agencies have something more than creativity, and it is this something more-an appreciation of business, perhaps-that distinguishes successful agencies, those that set the intellectual tone and pace of the industry.

The difference between "creativity" and "creativity of the kind found at advertising agencies" is probably pretty obvious. In a list of the most creative people of the 20th century, Edison and Einstein would be shoo-ins while Bernbach, Burnett and Oglivy would probably not make the list-and would do so only after Sarnoff, Paley and Luce.

After all, someone needed to create advertising-supported mass media before mass-media advertising could be created.

Richard Lightburn

Deerfield, Ill.

Correction

* In "P&G rethinks online strategy,"(Oct. 21, P. 4), Grey Global Group's Beyond Interactive will continue to handle interactive media planning for some P&G brands. As stated in the story, it will no longer be the central interactive media-buying agency of record in the U.S. SmartWorks marketers will report to Willie Alvarado, who heads the unit, though the marketers also will work with corporate marketing executive Lisa Hillenbrand.

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