LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

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Open up POP

The point of purchase (POP) industry is estimated at $15 billion a year, a marketplace that would seem to indicate abundant opportunity for competitors. Yet many of us are troubled by what we perceive to be a business climate that precludes some companies from competing in this market on a level playing field.

What should be an open market, where retailers and manufacturers have a variety of in-store POP options, is instead being dominated by a few select companies. Retailers and manufacturers are often limited to a single option when there are many more available that could more effectively increase incremental sales at POP. Some marketers are even forced to lock into exclusive relationships with a single in-store POP choice.

Consider the possibilities if a level playing field existed: Both small and large manufacturers able to respond quickly to local competitive conditions with inexpensive, manpower-efficient in-store at-shelf promotional options. Consider the desirability of having simultaneous competing product promotions, allowing manufacturers to "stay in the game" when the action is greatest. Consumers reap the ultimate benefit of fair competition: lower prices!

We believe it is time for the industry to explore the myriad of innovations introduced into the in-store POP market. New, versatile marketing options that actively encourage consumer migration to the shelf are reluctantly precluded from consideration because retailers are forced into exclusive contracts. There is growing unrest within the industry from retailers and manufacturers. They are frustrated at their limited POP choices, and they want to see changes within the industry that will provide them freedom to choose their in-store marketing options. We urge retailers and manufacturers who share our concerns to work toward creating an open market environment that will benefit everyone.

Cy Harris

Exec VP-Off The Shelf

Promo Edge

Elk Grove Village, Ill..

Editor's note: Promo Edge, a division of Menasha Corp., filed suit last year in U.S. District Court in Chicago against News America Marketing In-Store Services, challenging the legality of News America's agreements with retail chains that grant News America exclusive rights with respect to in-store promotions and advertising.

Toyota was wrong

Charles Hall said he was unable to grasp the distinction between Toyota's gold tooth ad and an ad for the Urban World Festival ("Why attack Toyota ad?" Letters to the Editor, AA, June 18). I'm not sure if Charles was being rhetorical or simply clueless. When I was growing up, my parents taught me the importance of being able to laugh at myself and not take myself too seriously. That's called self-deprecating humor. They also taught me not to make fun of others. That's called mockery.

The negative reaction to Toy-ota's gold tooth ad had nothing to do with "political correctness," as some suggest, but rather a genuine, visceral, personal reaction that said, "Hey, what gives you the right to make fun of me?" Yes. It is true that Rev. [Jesse] Jackson seized on Toyota's moment of vulnerability as an opportunity to teach the corporation a lesson. But I'm OK with that because it will hopefully lead Toyota to select a marketing and advertising partner that will help them speak to and sell to African-American consumers more effectively. And that, ultimately, will grow Toyota's business.

As for Charles, I'm surprised to see a fellow marketing professional make such baseless and unfounded generalizations about upper-middle-class African-Americans. I hope Rev. Jackson doesn't give Charles a call.

Mark S. Robinson

Managing Partner

S/R Communications Alliance

New York

Editor's note: S/R Communications Alliance, affiliated with Omnicom Group's BBDO Worldwide, specializes in multicultural marketing. Mr. Robin-son, a former exec VP at UniWorld, New York, also helped launch Omnicom Group's Spike/ DDB with film director Spike Lee.

Literate Garfield

Wow! Who says ad people aren't literate? Any ad critic who can manage to use both "cognitive dissonance" and "wizened" in one column ("When the idea's hard to find, it takes away from the message," Ad Review, AA, April 16) is OK in my book. Speaking as one of those creative directors without whom the world would no doubt be better off, I'm definitely impressed. Common sense, genuine understanding of what constitutes an advertising message, consistent skewering of all-black wardrobes-and a great vocabulary. What more could a reader ask for in a columnist? Thanks for Bob Garfield's consistent readable columns.

Sharyn F. Hinman

Senior VP-Creative Director

Wyse Advertising

Cleveland

Corrections

* In "Sony eyes $1 billion media play" (July 2, P. 1), it was incorrectly stated that Irwin Gotlieb, Chairman-CEO of WPP Group's MindShare media unit, was in Tokyo recently making a presentation to Sony Corp.

* In "Write it off" (July 2, P. 1), Tobias M. Levkovich is an analyst with Citigroup's Salomon Smith Barney unit. The article incorrectly identified him as an equities strategist with Goldman, Sachs & Co.

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