Congratulations for publishing Lowell Thompson's call for more non-whites in our creative departments ("A dirty little secret lives on," Forum, AA, June 5). Ad Age historically has been at the forefront in coverage and analysis of this issue.
Certainly, the creative department here has not achieved Mr. Thompson's goal of employing 15% African-Americans, and I can't say I'm familiar with departments elsewhere that have. I believe, however, that his suggestion that we use the Internet to help promote and circulate the work of black creative people could go a long way toward changing this.
I urge all agency managers to contact Mr. Thompson and help make this a project we all can use. I believe he is very dedicated to making this site a realistic, useful tool, and he's open to suggestions as to how best to achieve this.
In advertising, we all wield powerful emotional and aspirational imagery every day. It's time that we make sure these images are made for all of us, by all of us.
Jeffrey A. Goodby
Goodby, Silverstein & Partners
Lowell Thompson is focusing on creating a cure that would be worse, both long term and short term, than the disease itself.
Has he any interest in finding out what percentage of left-handed Asians are surgeons? What about the percentage of female lefties that are accountants? Are Italian-Americans under represented in journalism? How many people worry about the above?
Long before Nazi Germany started limiting who could be treated by Jewish doctors, there existed a concept known as numerus clausus, closed numbers. A maximum of a certain percentage of the students in certain universities could be of a particular background. These "closed numbers," or ceiling quotas, are of course on paper different from floor quotas. Mr. Thompson said, "I suggest we shoot for at least 15% of the creative staffs of every major agency being African-American by 2005."
If the "at least" he wants to "shoot for" is met and exceeded, what would he do with those who are "excessed"? Fire them? Floor quotas for one group tend to be ceiling quotas for another.
The best goal for 2005 would be that it be illegal for an employer to ask or, based on observation, record race or national origin.
Ira J. Friedman
I really enjoyed the article on diversity in advertising by Lowell Thompson. It was a fair-minded piece that made a number of good suggestions on how the industry can be more active and creative in finding ways to increase the numbers of people of color in the business.
Year after year, America becomes more racially diverse. So it should be clear by now that having multicultural staffs is just a smart business move. As an industry, we have the creativity and the resources to integrate agencies. All we need is the will.
Why Boo.com failed
Randall Rothenberg raised some great points in his column "Still hooked on `fast branding'? Ponder the lessons of Boo.com" (Viewpoint, AA, May 29). However, even though the monetary costs of "fast branding" may have created an incredible burn rate for Boo.com, it was beleaguered with a ton of site and business model-related issues that ultimately led to its demise. It was not the site's inability to acquire customers or create a presence in the marketplace.
The marketing and incredible PR proved effective. It drove traffic (which I would argue is trial). Fast branding is contrary to traditional long-term brand building in the huge upfront cash outlay, but fast branding has worked for many new companies . . .
Mr. Rothenberg doesn't offer an alternative. I am curious what Boo.com should have done. Taken it slow and stopped the upfront spending? If so, what should the new businesses that come to market without having an aggressive branding effort in place do? Does he have any thoughts on this?
Dirty Water Interactive
In "Bristol-Myers Squibb plans fall campaign for Plavix" (June 26, P. 36), Plavix is jointly marketed by Bristol-Myers and Sanofi-Synthelabo, which discovered the drug.