The American Advertising Fed-eration (AAF) was pleased to see Advertising Age shine a spotlight on a major industry challenge with its Jan. 29 editorial "Diversity Plan has Data Gap."
In any business, senior executives and line managers use quantitative and qualitative assessments to set priorities, allocate resources and track results. Effective diversity and multicultural marketing initiatives require the same diligence.
In 1999, the AAF conducted a confidential survey of the 300 larg-est advertisers, ad agencies and media companies. The project, funded by a grant from Procter & Gamble Co., sought to gather data on employment diversity and on multicultural advertising activity. Our intent was to establish a baseline against which we could gauge the effectiveness of our initiatives and also monitor aggregate industry trends over time. The results were offered to surveyed companies as a self-monitoring tool and for assessing their status relative to industry averages.
While not enough responses have been received to permit reliable inferences, AAF is continuing its commitment to collect this important data. Most recently, AAF's 40-member business practices review committee cited the need for data when it crafted our "Prin-ciples for Effective Advertising in the American Multicultural Mar-ketplace" and an addendum "Rec-ommended Practices." The companies formally committing to the "Principles" agree to participate in a baseline and subsequent surveys on industry and advertising activity. We believe this will provide the necessary data. Your spotlight on a "data gap" will also encourage more companies to adopt the "Principles" and participate in the next survey.
American Advertising Federation
Army, Burnett need Plan B
Concerning my essay on the new Army campaign ("The wrong campaign," Forum, AA, Jan. 29) and the rebuttal by [ Leo Burnett USA Exec VP] Ray DeThorne ("Burnett on Army work," Letters to the Editor, AA, Feb. 5), I would like to clarify two points. I did use the words "be all you can be," but was not arguing strongly for the retention of that famous slogan. And I have no objection to building a campaign around individual soldiers.
Indeed, some of my favorite ads from past Army campaigns used such a personalized approach. If Burnett pursues it, they will, I'm sure, find real soldiers who, when asked, will provide them with statements about the fulfilling-and, yes, individually empowering-nature of their Army experience that will be more direct, genuine and moving than the adspeak recited by Cpl. Lovett in the introductory "I Am an Army of One" commercial.
I can understand Burnett's surprise at the reception the new campaign has received. The "product" doesn't usually complain about how it's being represented in its advertising. But it would be a mistake to believe this hostility can be overcome by explicating the nuanced character of the slogan. "A dual message of individual empowerment and its intrinsic connection to team" will, I'm afraid, strike plain soldiers, in and out of uniform, as gobbledygook. And, in my opinion, it would also be a mistake to believe a publicly-funded campaign that has been referred to in editorial columns as "false advertising" can remain viable for very long.
My advice would be to move quickly to Plan B: Find a slogan that tells young people what they learn in the Army will be personally empowering, without somehow implying that cherished military values are being sacrificed in catering to all those self-involved young "Friends" viewers. It would be presumptuous of me to say how this should be done. That it can be done I have no doubt because such a maneuver is not without precedent in the distinguished history of Army advertising.
Thomas W. Evans
Who's afraid of PVRs?
Personal video recorders strike fear in the hearts of advertisers and networks. Anxiety about this new technology dictates that we disparage it. This same fear makes it difficult to see and grasp the new opportunities. This behavior is similar to that of consumers. When asked how they plan to use new technologies, most consumers cannot envision or predict if they will adopt something new or how frequently they might use it.
An anecdote: While watching a favorite channel, my seven-year-old called for me to see a commercial for a coveted Christmas gift. "I'm too busy making dinner," I replied; "it'll be on again." When the dishes were cleared, she asked, "Can you watch that commercial now?" I replied, "How do you know it will be on?" "I TiVo'd it," she answered. Then I got it.
We've got to adopt, use and make these new technologies our tool. Let's seek the opportunity rather than fear the unknown!
* In "Chicago agencies undergo another round of layoffs" (Late News, P. 1, Feb. 12), DraftWorldwide was incorrectly identified as a unit of Omnicom Group. It is a unit of Interpublic Group of Cos.