LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

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Martha is her brand

Very interesting article by Randall Rothenberg ("Take a tip from Martha: A person is not a brand," Viewpoint, AA, July 8). However, Martha Stewart is, in fact, a brand-perhaps one of the best examples of a brand. What she projects is the embodiment of what her company stands for; a fine-tuned brand image so clearly defined in the minds of her audience (and shareholders); yet vulnerable, as are all brands, to the repercussions of a customer experience that is inconsistent with what the brand is all about. ...

Sure, we forgive indiscretions here and there that our favorite brands commit. Nothing's perfect. But the ImClone scandal certainly is not a small indiscretion (whether or not she did anything wrong), especially in this time of corporate scandals when "trust" has been put on the defensive. It goes against everything the Martha Stewart brand stands for. Perception is reality. And the stock was rocked. Brands live and die by the rational and emotional relationships they have with their audiences. When the brand relationship is with a living person and her projected values, as in the case of Martha, that person has to be especially careful and protective of the image. It's a huge challenge for anyone, and for Ms. Stewart, who carries the weight of her brand on her shoulders.

Perhaps if the Martha Stewart brand wasn't so clearly defined, or wasn't yet a brand, as Rothenberg argued, the public reaction wouldn't have been so harsh and the stock wouldn't have suffered so. This situation made everyone consider what Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia is without Martha Stewart: a company whose brand equity is worth a lot less.

Rob Reuter

VP-Client Services

Elisco Advertising

Pittsburgh

`New guard' shaking up marketing sacred cows

Scott Donaton accurately picked up on a bit of the disturbance in the "status quo-marketing force" in his report on Chrysler Group's Jeff Bell and his real yet controversial comments on the media upfront ("Let's be upfront about the upfront: Its time has passed," Viewpoint, AA, May 20).

In response to the "emerging new world" around us (post-economic downturn, 9/11, media fragmentation, brand chaos, etc.), there is an "emerging new guard in marketing." It is relentlessly focused on getting brand/business growth, challenging all the sacred cows of the marketing and advertising/media industries, demanding higher marketing ROI and emergent new growth solutions.

Two of the new guard in marketing were standouts at the Marketing Forum [on the Queen Elizabeth II]. Jeff Bell and Rohan Oza of Coca-Cola Co. presented intriguing material that shocked the largely business-as-usual marketers that were there. What Donaton didn't see [is] that these revolutionaries come out of the organizations of "emergent thought leaders," Jim Schroer and Chris Lowe, respectively. And there are more of these emerging marketing revolutionaries out there in a handful of companies.

My partner, Robin Austin, and myself at Fusion 5 were/are a major part of the disturbance in the force at the Forum and in client-land (with these Chrysler and Coca-Cola revolutionaries as long time clients). It's because the marketing model and its Madison Avenue dependency are obsolete and new growth solutions are for the emergent new guard. We detailed these approaches as "The 10 demand-ments for growth": deeper, more immersive target DNA, episodic marketing, buzz plans, brand mythology, etc.

Donaton opened the door. Now it's time to get beyond "the upfront buy" to get a full glimpse of what is really going on at the front edge of marketing.

Patrick Meyer

CEO

Fusion 5

Westport, Conn.

Yellow Pages group welcomes ROI focus

I enjoyed attending and reading about the AdWatch: Outlook 2002 conference ("Big guns predict smaller ad role," AA, July 1). However, I was surprised Advertising Age did not cover a topic raised by most of the panelists at the conference, and one that I agree deserves particular attention: namely, return on investment and measurability. Frankly, we're squarely on the side of the advertiser.

I represent a medium that is often misunderstood. While the Yellow Pages may not be as glamorous as TV, it is one of the only advertising media that is proven to get results (approximately $14 for every $1 invested). Thus, all the talk of ROI at the conference was music to my ears.

Our recently launched "I sell things" ad campaign compares the Yellow Pages to TV, radio, magazines and other ad media, and stresses the Yellow Pages' unique ability to close a sale. I'd even challenge you to come up with a medium with a better track record than the Yellow Pages when it comes to measurability and ROI. In the meantime, I'd settle for seeing more discussion of "measurability" in future issues of Ad Age.

Frank S. Capozza

Senior VP

Communications and Government Relations

Yellow Pages Integrated Media Association

Berkeley Heights, N.J.

Why this show works

Re: Randall Rothenberg's "Shouting down raucous path to the truth on `America Now,"' (Viewpoint, AA, May 13). The secret is simple.This show features two guys with disparate world views who pay attention to guests and, like O'Reilly and Imus, respond like real people when the bullshit and/or outrage flies! All other comparable talking-head fests feature polite, well-mannered, passive, semi-disinterested, (and usually situationally ignorant) hosts.

Jim Richman

Bottomline Group

New York

Editor's note: The name of the TV show was changed to "Kudlow & Cramer" after the article appeared.

Correction

* In the table "World's Top 25 core agency brands" (April 22, P. S-2), Hakuhodo's 2001 gross income and billings were incorrectly reported. The correct totals are gross income of $874.3 million, not $875.9 as reported, on billings of $6.86 billion, not $6.88 billion. Hakuhodo's No. 13 ranking does not change.

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