LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

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`AA' wrong on tests: DRI

There is great issue to be taken with the Ad Age article "GM rethinks the merits of ad pre-testing" (AA, April 23) and the editorial "GM tune-up" (AA, April 30). These were a misinformed and unfair attempt to create a self-serving media controversy over the age-old conflict between some agency creatives and copy testing. Misin-formed because the key information on which they were based is false. Unfair because only one side of the story, related by anonymous sources, was told.

The article stated Diagnostic Research International tested "a pair of commercials for Volkswag-en of America" on behalf of General Motors Corp. and "flunked" them. The real teeth of the article and editorial was the proposition that if a testing system can flunk VW advertising-"widely regarded as some of the best in the industry"-then [it] is "dangerous" and "perilous."

Conveniently or unwittingly, the report did not mention we actually tested three, not two commercials, and that the one not mentioned performed well on almost all dimensions. Our actual assessment of the three VW ads was as follows (with the important caveat that we didn't know precise advertising objectives and core target definitions, which are critical to the assessment of effectiveness in our book):

"All three ads were commended for their breakthrough ability and distinctiveness, dimensions for which the ad industry at large applauds the campaign. These are, no doubt, two of VW's core objectives."

The truth is that only one of the three commercials was deemed problematic. It performed poorly on all other dimensions. Frank Maguire, VP-sales and marketing at VW, admitted "... sometimes the executions don't work ..." as stated in the April 23 Ad Age article.

Had VW been our client, we feel they would have welcomed these assessments in order to crystallize in their minds the trade-offs to be considered. And perhaps the agen-cy creatives might have invented appropriate modifications to improve them prior to airing.

And now, the real DRI:

First of all, we are sympathetic to those in the agency creative population at large who must endure pass/fail copytesting systems, which by their very nature, run the risk of smothering creativity.

Second, DRI is not in the business of pass/fail. We are in the business of helping our clients and their agencies understand, in depth, how well their advertising executions meet their objectives. Our mission is to inform the decision-making process and help effect optimization.

Greg Wood

Co-Founder

Diagnostic Research International

Los Angeles

McCann on `all good' Buick

Thanks for the input! Rance Crain's insights and analysis have proven invaluable as we continue to develop Buick's new campaign, "It's all good" ("Buick's new slogan goes after buyers in off-target age group," Viewpoint, AA, May 7).

Calling the line "obscure" and "a slogan that makes no sense" is, in hindsight, fair. Stepping back from it, what could those three words possibly mean? What were we thinking? Equally helpful was his suggestion that we not use the song "Pennies from Heaven" in a spot where pennies rain down from heaven. How obvious. And he is so right about "Buick's stupid commercials" starring Tiger Woods. Just because Sports Illustrated and USA Today like them is no reason for us to. Way to see through the bias of the mainstream media!

Perhaps of greatest value were his comments regarding the Rendezvous. Frankly, we haven't been thinking of it as a "sport wagon." But if he says it is, it must be! Nice catch, Rance!

Wise counsel, as always, R.C. We won't let you down again.

Garry Neel

Managing Director

Dave Moore

Executive Creative Director

McCann-Erickson Worldwide

Detroit

Intel ads a waste

I suspect I am almost alone in criticizing this campaign ("Intel Inside at 10," AA, April 30), but here goes. The purpose of advertising is to differentiate your product from competitors in a meaningful manner. You do this by stressing those consumer benefits that are yours alone. ... When and if a competitor puts a new chip against Intel and can make one or more salient features its own, Intel Inside will still have name recognition but no differentiating factor-no reason to buy! It will be vulnerable.

Robert Grayson

President

Grayson Associates

San Juan Capistrano, Calif.

Corrections

* In "Media spending down for third straight month" (Late News, May 14, P. 2), it was incorrectly reported that cable TV was up 0.7% in February. Network TV was up 0.7%; cable TV was down 2.5%.

* In "FYI" (For the Record, May 14, P. 34), it was incorrectly reported Luminant Worldwide Corp. posted first-quarter net income of about $220,000. The interactive shop actually reported a first-quarter net loss of $17.2 million, vs. a year-ago net loss of $29.6 million.

* In "Magazines see 6.8% drop in ads for first quarter" (April 23, P. 16), Time Inc. is not joint owner of American Express Publishing Corp. with American Express Co. Time Inc. manages the magazines but has no ownership interest.

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