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Unkindest cuts

Re: Paul Gumbinner's "Clients dictate unkindest cuts" (Forum, AA, Dec. 3): I don't recall ad agency staffing cuts as equitable during the downturn of a decade ago. This time around so many forces are converging-the dot-com collapse, the general economic slowdown, the post-9/11 effect, the budget mandates of a handful of dominant holding companies-[that] the most benevolent agency chief faces an even more daunting task determining who gets pink-slipped.

If it helps the ex-employee who is in full-time search mode, any stigma attached to being unemployed is a thing of the past. That doesn't mean there are a ton of jobs out there. But candidates do get judged on the merits, which is Paul Gumbinner's wish.

John Karrel

Director, Marketing/Advertising/Sales Group

Glocap Search

New York

Don't blame fee system

As a 25-year agency veteran with an additional 15 years consulting with advertisers on the subject of their agency compensation, I was dismayed by some of the key implications in the Forum essay written by Paul Gumbinner ("Clients dictate unkindest cuts," AA, Dec. 3).

The article suggests that, faced with cost cutting in our current slow economic times, agencies often must terminate more, rather than less, qualified employees because that is a more practical way to deal with clients whose compensation is tied to a "fee system of agency compensation."

Surely any rational management-on both sides of the relationship-would prefer to strengthen, not weaken, their organization, especially in lean times. The compensation method should have nothing to so with the issue of competence of staff.

To blame the compensation agreement for such action would be like a man who shot himself in the foot placing the blame on the bullet.

The reality is that the fee system, now accepted as their primary method by nearly 70% of advertisers, has introduced greater accountability, and "fairness" (to both parties) to this important component of the overall advertising budget.

Many of today's agencies have enough problems trying to serve the twin masters of holding company profit pressures and client quality/service control without running the risk of downgrading the caliber of their staff. Agencies who would take that kind of action, let alone blame their compensation agreements, are well on the road to conducting their own "going out of business" sale.

Stanley H. Beals

Managing Director

Jones Lundin Beals


`New school' consultants

In response to the [letter from Select Resources International] recently made public in "AdAges" ("Life's a pitch," AdAges, AA, Nov. 19), we feel a need to step forward so all marketing consultancies specializing in client/agency relationships are not painted with the same brush. We are part of a "new school" of consultants working to help strengthen existing relationships, not trying to drive a wedge between clients and agencies. We would never suggest that a "discreet, under the radar" exploration of potential agency replacements is an appropriate way to deal with today's uncertain business environment.

These are unsettling times. Much has been written about the stress placed on marketers, the tightening of budgets and the subsequent impact on agency confidence and performance. Today, more than ever, marketers (and their consultants) must find ways to quell tensions, not fuel them. ... May we suggest that, before getting in a room to look at new agencies, marketers get in a room with their current partners to discuss all the ways they can maximize the investment they've made in each other.

Jan Boyle

Howard Lesman


New York

Ads on AMC

Re: [American Movie Classics President Kate] McEnroe's Letter to the Editor ("No snap judgements," AA, Nov. 12): If she is so concerned about America's relaxation with movies, why is AMC now cutting almost every classic film in half to show commercials? That isn't very comforting for me.

Len Zimmerman


Zimmerman Business Consulting

New York

Articulate about Taco Bell

Just as fetal development reflects the stages of evolution, Bob Garfield's metaphorical description of what is wrong/right with the Taco Bell spots strategy is a highly original way of looking at a process ("Taco Bell rings a false note with techster-themed effort," AdReview, AA, Oct. 8).

I have not read Garfield's reviews for some time; life and other career directions intervened. But it was a pleasure to revisit his amusing and articulate musings. Thanks for the smile (feral grimace?).

Dyann Espinosa

Portland, Ore.


* In the table "Top executive salaries for major marketers" ("Salary Survey" Special Report, Dec. 3, P. S-10), the age of Campbell Soup Co.'s President-CEO Douglas R. Conant should have been reported as 50.

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