The recent allegations of dishonest billing practices in advertising are sending ripples through the entire industry ("Ad Scams?", AA, April 1, et seq.). While these charges are serious and must be fully explored, we should not let the actions of a few tarnish an entire industry. As the CEO of an independent graphics facility, I am concerned about the consequences of this scandal and I hope that all longstanding client-vendor relationships are not viewed with suspicion.
With all the interest in the print community's business practices, now is the time to look closely at how we do business and how we can restore client confidence. Fortunately, unlike the tangled dealings of Andersen and Enron, ours is a simple business with simple solutions.
Vendors should be very clear on their pricing structure and on how they justify charges for products and services. Explaining costs upfront is just good business. Internal audits of billing are another important procedure every vendor should implement. Clients should feel justified to question any bill and receive reliable documentation of labor and accurate product charges. Most of all, the process and how it is paid for must be transparent to all parties. There is plenty of technology available to make this easy. I know, because my company has these procedures in place.
I take great pride in my craft and it saddens me to see the damage that has been done to our trade. Now it is up to all of us to employ new procedures to help re-establish lost trust.
CEO and Founder
Working with Chiat difficult but rewarding
Re: "Jay Chiat, ad pioneer" (AA, April 29).
I worked for Jay Chiat from 1982 to 1990. These were arguably the most creatively prolific years for Chiat/Day and I was fortunate to have been a part of it. Jay was a difficult and demanding person, intellectually and emotionally. It is incredible how most all of the talented people that he attracted to his agency have gone on to become successes in their own right. It was not a coincidence but rather because of their interaction with Jay and the impact he had on them.
In my own case, I learned and benefited enormously from having been touched by him: sometimes with pleasure, sometimes with pain. Others who will not now have that opportunity will have missed something of notable importance.
I spent 17 years thinking I was in the advertising business before meeting Jay Chiat. I was wrong. Thank you, Jay, for enlightening me and so many others.
Goldberg Moser O'Neill
Chiat, Wells and what advertising should be
I read in Ad Age ("Jay Chiat, ad pioneer," AA, April 29) that Andy Berlin and Bob Wolf both felt the intuitive, entrepreneurial elements are gone from our industry. I would expect this type of comment from those two gentlemen, especially in the light of Mary Wells' comments some weeks earlier ("Wells tells," AA, April 15). She said the larger agencies cannot feel their fingers and toes. I believe she hit the nail on the head. The reason is that the current crop of mega-agencies don't want big thinkers in their ranks. ...
There are in many boutique shops the future Jay Chiats, the future David Ogilvys, the future movers and shakers of our industry. They don't care about shareholders, or ROI, but only about advancing the state of the art in our industry.
As the need for advertising with impact outstrips the current acceptance of mediocrity, these talents will emerge and cause us all to wonder and dream again about what is possible in getting the message out. It is, as Mary Wells also said, just a matter of time before advertisers regain their vision and empower those small shops to the greatness that they are destined for.
John Robert Simmons
Shuler & Associates
Power personalities? Check bean counters
I read Scott Donaton's column "Jay Chiat's passing highlights a power personality vacuum" (Viewpoint, AA, May 6) and it got me thinking that there are still a lot of "bad boys," and girls for that matter, out here, or there, depending on your point of view.
Unfortunately, today the only place you can be really bad in advertising and still be considered really good is as a bean counter.
As a former executive creative director myself, I was actually told by a bean counter once that my creatives "have got to understand that the business of this business is to make money, not ads." The truly sad part for me was that that person was absolutely right for that agency at that time (which, by the way, no longer has any offices on the West Coast).
Advertising used to be much simpler. You didn't have to know beans about beans. You just did great stuff.
Design Factory West
* In "Marketers turn to celebrities to lure Hispanic consumers" (May 13, P. 20), the "Got Milk?" ad featuring actress Lili Estefan, singer Gloria Estefan's niece, was wrongly credited to the California Milk Processors Board and agency Anita Santiago Advertising, Santa Monica, Calif. The ad was created for the MilkPEP/Milk Processors Education Program by SiboneyUSA, Miami.
* In "Consumer magazine advertising linage for Jan.-March 2002" (April 29, P. 54), the publishing frequency for Family Circle was incorrectly listed as 17-times yearly. It is 15-times yearly. Also, the 2001 first-quarter ad-page total for American Hunter was incorrectly reported by that magazine. The corrected number is 68.64 pages, not 130.88. In addition, Palm Springs Life said it incorrectly reported its 2002 first-quarter and 2001 first-quarter ad-page numbers. Its corrected number for the 2002 first quarter is 339.64 pages, not 145.33 pages. Its corrected number for the 2001 first quarter is 357.82 pages, not 100.50 pages.