LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

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Privacy a non-issue

I write not only in response to the July 31 Ad Age article about the recent online privacy pact ("Ad groups hail privacy pact, rivals voice fears") but in reference to the entire hoopla surrounding the non-issue. An election year never fails to ire and entertain. This time we're treated to a technophobic witch hunt in the form of online privacy.

As I sat through a recent American Advertising Federation workshop on the issue, it struck me few people in our industry are concerned with the offline implications any privacy legislation would impose. Nearly a century of marketing and demographic research has depended on various sources that would be jeopardized.

Too many individuals are toiling at crafting the perfect privacy statement; too few work to create an understanding of the ways consumer information is utilized to drive commerce -- not create an oppressive world government.

I'm not an advocate of an open-book society in any way, but I fully realize anytime I enter a sweepstakes I increase my junk mail. I recognize my membership in various organizations guarantees I am on several mailing lists.

If legislation aimed at limiting marketing information passes, practically every document requiring my address or phone number will also require a privacy statement. Don't we pay our lawyers enough without inviting this Pandora's box into our industry?

Darryl Corley

Producer/Director, Six Productions

Beaumont, Texas

Matthews on Jacoby

I am a fan of Randall Rothenberg, and his column is a "must read" for me in every issue. But I believe someone gave him some bum information about the Saatchi acquisition of the Bates agency ("As pieces of old Saatchi empire find buyers, the lessons remain," Viewpoint, July 17).

The CEO of Ted Bates had traditionally owned a controlling interest in the agency, and thus Bob Jacoby found himself in this position when he became the head guy at Bates.

At the time of the Saatchi attempt to buy Ted Bates, Bob was the chairman of the American Association of Advertising Agencies, and so I knew a lot about the negotiations going on at that time. Jacoby consistently resisted the Saatchi attempts to acquire Bates and turned down at least three previous offers from Saatchi.

Finally Bob told me, "I'm going to put an outlandish price on the agency which will cool their interest, and if they agree to it then we will take the money and retire happy." Much to everyone's surprise, Saatchi agreed to the price. Compared to all previous Saatchi acquisitions, i.e., Compton Advertising, Dancer Fitzgerald Sample et al, the price was outlandish.

The press focused primarily on the stock value of Jacoby's holdings. What was he supposed to do? Would anyone expect Jacoby to sell his stock to others before the Saatchi deal went down or take some other divestiture action in order to reduce the press reaction to his personal gains?

So it is not true I called Bob a huckster or was critical of him in any way. Although it is difficult to call anyone a victim who's just had a windfall of $110 million, Bob was victimized by the press for the size of his good fortune.

Len Matthews

Rancho Santa Fe, Calif.

Corrections

* In the "Ad Age 300" report (June 12, P. S-14), GamePro magazine should have ranked No. 8 in total circulation at 486,400, up 6.3%, on a chart listing the nation's leading computer/Internet/electronic game magazines. Ad Age uses its own classification system for these magazines (E001), but failed to notate GamePro as part of that class.

The following relate to data published in the "Top 100 Megabrands" report (AA, July 17).

* BKN Media, Chicago, media services agency for the Montgomery Ward department stores megabrand, was inadvertently left off the chart identifying agencies serving the megabrand (P. S-9).

* Haworth Marketing & Media, Minneapolis, is the exclusive media services agency for the Target discount stores and Mervyn's department stores megabrands as well as for all Target Corp. divisions (P. S-6).

* McCann-Erickson Worldwide, Publicis and Group/II, all New York, handle creative for the L'Oreal beauty products megabrand (P. S-6). McCann and Publicis also handle media services responsibilities.

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