LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Published on .

Color Wheel in lead on billing reform

I am disappointed and concerned that Advertising Age is more interested in rehashing old headlines than presenting ways to understand and confront issues regarding accounting in the print production industry. "Dirty little secret: How fraud occurs on Madison Ave." (AA, June 17) stated the obvious: that the print production industry needs to be as progressive administratively as it is technically.

A few rogue elements have exploited cracks in our industry's accounting procedures. It is an industrywide problem that must be addressed immediately. With-out modernization and policy reform, the entire industry remains vulnerable and suspect.

The Color Wheel is taking aggressive steps to revolutionize industry billing practices, including our significant commitment over the past three years to implementing a new estimating and invoicing system. Our goal from the start has been transparency and accountability from estimate to invoice. We truly believe this will set the industry standard for quality, responsibility and professionalism. We would have been happy to discuss this but Ad Age never bothered to seek our opinion.

Contrary to the article, there are very few truly independent production houses left. We are very serious about the reputation of not only The Color Wheel but our industry. We believe [Color Wheel owner Haluk] Ergulec and our company will be cleared of all charges. ... It is our mission to restore trust and accountability in our industry.

Mark Wenger

President

The Color Wheel

New York

Partnership had role in Ohio policy fight

In "Where there is smoke, there are mirrors" (Adages, AA, June 10), Advertising Age columnist Richard Linnett wrote of my Institute for Policy Studies monograph (see www.ips-dc.org). It discusses the efforts of Gov. Bob Taft (R., Ohio) to defeat a drug treatment-rather-than-incarceration ballot initiative and proves the supposedly apolitical Partnership for a Drug-Free America's cooperation with the Taft effort.

Yes, the Partnership did not actually create any advertising. (The scheme was exposed last winter, as I indicate.) But, based on Ohio documents and other reporting, the Partnership's overt, manifest willingness to insert itself into a state election is unassailable.

To summarize portions of the IPS report: along with Ohio officials, the Partnership's four top executives attended a July meeting (in the U.S. Capitol itself, hosted by a senior Republican Senate staffer) to lay plans to defeat the initiative. The Partnership termed it a "counter-legalization brainstorm session."

Ohio First Lady Hope Taft wrote about gathering "a group of people to see how some of the national groups like PDFA, etc., can develop PSAs that highlight the best aspects of the current drug court system." Such PSAs would sway voters in favor of the status quo. Meeting minutes declare: "Partnership for Drug Free America is to present a couple page concept on how they can help." And: "PDFA can do educational PSAs starting now about success stories of people who were required to get treatment." And: "We have two media tracks: 1) the Partnership's educational, nonpolitical piece and 2) the political ads to get out the vote." Yet, given their genesis and intent, calling the first set of ads nonpolitical is absurd.

An Ohio "Proactive Approach" memo stated: "Develop Public Service Announcement-before the actual campaign begins in order to promote what is being done and the benefit of treatment-partner with the Partnership for a Drug-Free America." A Taft cabinet official told me, "I had the intent to talk to the Partnership to identify what to do in Ohio." In a formal strategy playbook, we find: "Develop PSA, with run time concentration only days before election." The corresponding resource is listed as the Partnership.

Finally, Linnett blithely quotes Partnership PR chief Steve Dnistrian: "Clearly, Dan is smoking some of the wacky weed that he has a great affection for when he is sitting down writing these things." Dnistrian's McCarthyite attack demands either evidence I produce my work under the influence of "wacky weed" (how precious, how positively fey), or an apology and retraction from both the Partnership and Ad Age.

On what basis does Dnistrian make this accusation? More to the point, on what basis does a presumably responsible reporter publish the absurd notion that Dnistrian has any idea whatsoever of my work habits? An organization I write about makes an ad hominem slur-is that alone reason enough to print it? All the Partnership has in its corner are smear and attempted character assassination to attempt to deflect attention from the facts.

Daniel Forbes

New York

Editor's note: Ad Age did not intend Mr. Dnistrian's comments about Mr. Forbes to be taken seriously. We regret it if anyone did.

Anti-drug ads backed

Three cheers to those lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives who, in calling for the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign to continue, recognize the role advertising can play in helping to prevent drug use among kids ("White House nears $150M drug decision," AA, July 1). There is no doubt that these ads help to raise this issue with local parents and their children, while reducing use among young people.

Christopher J. Curtis

Communications Director

Oregon Partnership

Portland, Ore.

Corrections

* In "Big guns predict smaller ad role" (July 1, P. 1), it was incorrectly stated that Coca-Cola Co.'s NCAA sponsorship deal was signed with General Electric Co.'s NBC. It was signed with Viacom's CBS.

* In "Heating up Windy City creative" (June 24, P. 20), the caption wrongly attributed Nike's "Tag" TV spot to Jeff Labbe. Kash Sree and Mike Byrne were copywriters on that commercial.

* In "Account Action" (June 17, P. 10), the listing on Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota wrongly said there was no consultant handling the review. The consultant is Jan Apple, Minneapolis.

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