LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Published on .

To suggest as Stefano Hatfield did in his column discussing the newly minted millionaires at Bcom3 Group/ Leo Burnett ("Bonanza for Bcom3 owners is also a double-edged sword," Viewpoint, AA, Sept. 30) that [Bcom3's] sellout to Publicis Groupe was an inevitable conclusion to doing business in today's world misses the facts of the matter.

That point of view also seems to endorse, or at least legitimize, the transaction, while dealing a blow to those in advertising who still believe in honor, integrity and hokey things like trying to create advertising that actually works.

Contrary to what Hatfield suggests, we can't agree that "this business is so much more about business" than it used to be. The agency that Leo Burnett ran was eminently more profitable, and more business-like, than the cobbled conglomerate just sold under Bcom3's aegis. Leo believed an agency's profits were secondary to a client's success, while the most recent Burnett management, with little understanding of, or faith in, the efficacy of its creative product, made "agency profit," closely tied to personal compensation, priority No. 1.

In the mid-`80's, Rick Fizdale was given the opportunity to run Leo Burnett Co., then one of the world's most successful agencies. Just chosen [Advertising Age's 1987] Agency of the Year, Burnett was uniquely positioned for growth in the global economy, with an extensive international network, an unrivaled creative product and a strategy envied by its competitors.

Instead of building from this solid and enviable position, Fizdale dithered while competitors dealt, until he was forced to accept leftovers and second-rate alliances, for which he overpaid. His tenure was marked by managerial torpor [and] crippling corporate intrigue. But there was one unifying urge-greed.

The Bcom3/Leo Burnett sale was not a consequence of any "new reality" in the advertising business. It was simply a tawdry episode in which money-hungry managers were willing to destroy a once-great company, and jeopardize their employees' futures, in order to enrich themselves. Of course, their excuse, their final deception, was "We had to sell it in order to save it!"

Ironically, Publicis Groupe's [CEO] Maurice Levy will understand the value of Leo Burnett's name better than the Burnett people who sold out the agency. And, just as surely, he will send the silly "Bcom3" designation to rest with the rotting apples at the bottom of the renowned Leo Burnett elevator shaft.

Norman Muse

Chicago

Mr. Muse was chairman of Leo Burnett Co. in 1985 and 1986 and also served as chief creative officer.

Tyson ad defenders missing the point

Re: "Iron Mike Tyson puts on the kid gloves and the press cries foul" (Adages, AA, Sept. 30): The comments put forth by Allen Hughes [co-director of the Fox Sportscenter/Mike Tyson TV spot] are, frankly, absurd. Mike Tyson doesn't just look like a "menace to society," he is a menace, through both words and actions.

Beyond the ear-fetish incident, let's not forget Tyson's own comments. In a conversation with reporters, Tyson commented, "I wish that you guys had children so I could kick them in the [expletive] head or stomp on their testicles ..."

After a fight with Lou Savarese, Mike proclaimed he wanted Lennox Lewis' heart. Then Tyson said, "I want to eat your [Lewis'] children."

Responding to a female reporter, Tyson tried to woo her with the slick line, "It's no doubt I am going to win this fight ... I normally don't do interviews with women unless I fornicate with them. So you shouldn't talk anymore ... Unless you want to, you know."

And the most compelling argument for why Tyson should not be a public spokesperson, once again from Mikey himself: "I have never cared about the public. I enjoy doing this. I enjoy hurting people. That is how I make a living. I am in the hurting business. I sometimes do not like myself. I can understand why people do not like me."

[Fox Sportscenter agency] Cliff Freeman & Partners has always endured on over-the-top humor and, at times, on a bit of shock factor to break through the clutter. It's usually more tasteful, however, than this example.

I wish Tyson the best of luck in turning his life around. But he should not be placed in any prominent media role in the meantime. Perhaps ever.

As advertising professionals, we should keep in mind the words of Bill Bernbach, who said, "All of us who professionally use the mass media are shapers of society. We can brutalize it. Or we can lift it onto a higher level."

Tim Anderson

Account Planner, Pontiac

D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles

Troy, Mich.

A secret SOS in Nasdaq spot?

On seeing the visuals accompanying Bob Garfield's AdReview of the new Nasdaq commercials ("Nasdaq taps heavy hitters to shore up battered image," AA, Sept. 9), I was amused to see that the final frame of the commercial shows the Nasdaq scroller with the ticker symbol "qqq" in lower case.

Seasoned investors know QQQ is the stock symbol for the Nasdaq 100 Trust, but as depicted in sans-serif type on the scroller, it also looks very much like "999," which is the British emergency-assistance phone number (akin to 911 in the U.S.)!

Is the Nasdaq commercial a secretly coded call for help from across the Atlantic?

Kartik Pashupati

Assistant Professor

Department of Communication

Florida State University

Tallahassee, Fla.

Correction

* In "Media Score" (Sept. 30, P. S-5), the Media Talk score for Marc Goldstein, president-CEO of WPP Group's MindShare USA, New York, was incorrectly given as 44. It is 52. In the "Media Talk" table accompanying the story, Jon Mandel's title was incorrect. He is co-CEO, chief negotiating officer, Grey Global Group's MediaCom, New York.

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