Letters to the Editor

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Look at economics of our pay offer: ad groups

In response to SAG/AFTRA Presidents Daniels' and Scott's appeal for a "fair day's wage" ("Actors unions on ad groups' strike stance," Forum, AA, May 29) and the Advertising Age editorial stating "both sides need to cut to the cash questions and not drag this on" ("Early curtain for this strike," Viewpoint, AA, May 15), let's take a real look at the economics of our offer.

Here's the money:

The advertising industry's final economic proposal restructures quarterly residuals fairly and equitably to reflect the present day increase in value of cable viewership and the diminution of network viewership.

The final proposal contained a first time ever guaranteed quarterly residual for one play on network and cable of $4,202, more for "spot" use, and the same guarantee for use in any subsequent quarter. This residual guarantee is paid for the one day of actual work it takes for an actor to film a 15 or 30 second commercial.

Half of all scale actors received less than $2,045 in pay-per-play network residuals per quarter under the old expired contract, making their combined network and cable residuals per quarter less than $3,059. The industry's new guarantee is a 37% increase in residuals per quarter for network and cable for half of the SAG members appearing in commercials.

The vast majority of SAG/AFTRA members make out well under the new guaranteed residual format. It raises the minimum overall compensation of the profession dramatically. It addresses Presidents Daniels' and Scott's joint statement: "We're in this to preserve our livelihoods, not just to make more money."

The industry has replaced a pay-per-play gamble with a guarantee. In addition, the industry raised the daily session fee for work in filming a commercial to $500 per day, paid whether the commercial airs or not.

SAG/AFTRA's interim agreement calls for a 350% increase in cable residuals and a 600% increase in the fee to move a TV commercial to the Internet.

It is unprecedented, unrealistic and out of line with any other labor negotiation. It has dramatically strengthened industry solidarity.

The industry has attempted to modernize a 1950s-based residual methodology for effective use in the year 2000 and beyond. We hope to rekindle a strong institutional partnership between talent and management.

The money is there, so let's drop the rhetoric and lets get back to work!

John A. McGuinn

Ira Michael Shepard

Chief Negotiator and Counsel

Joint Policy Committee on Talent Union Relations

Association of National Advertisers

American Association of Advertising Agencies

New York

Editor's note: "Ad groups on actors' strike," presenting the advertising industry's view on the strike, appeared on Ad Age's May 22 Forum page.

Differs with AA `Best'

I must disagree with Advertising Age's selection of the California Department of Health Services' "Sunset Blvd. Limp Cowboy" as a runner-up in the "Out of home" category of the Ad Age Best Awards (AA, May 29).

I've seen this billboard while driving down Sunset Boulevard and it is thoroughly ineffective in getting its message across.

The billboard medium for this ad does not allow the viewer to fathom that the ad is a parody. So closely does the ad mimic the "true" Marlboro look and feel, that the "impotent" ad is virtually indistinquishable from an advertisement for Marlboro cigarettes. Unless the message is clearly communicated for the viewer to understand, the ad doesn't work.

In this case, the billboard may actually do the opposite of its intent by reinforcing the Marlboro message.

A similar campaign that showed Joe Camel on life support was much easier to "get" while maintaining the brand recognition required for a successful parody.

Dennis Wesner

Marketing Communications Supervisor

Federal Signal Corp.

University Park, Ill.

Clarification

The editorial "Get creative" (June 12, P. 34) included a quote given by Steve Koonin when he was VP-consumer marketing for Coca-Cola Co. earlier this year. Mr. Koonin has since become exec VP-general manager of Time Warner's Turner Network Television network.

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