In response to "The jury's still out as Hachette chief finishes first year" (AA, May 29), even though [the article] noted that George's circulation soared 25% this year alone it did not accurately portray the ad picture for the magazine. I want to set the record straight about our performance.
Firstly, the article referenced our performance only through April 2000 -- a period that had two issues vs. four in 1999. A more complete comparison would have been to show our performance though the July issue. This period compares five issues in 2000 to seven issues in 1999 and illustrates that, while ad pages are down, two of the last three issues -- the May and July issues -- are up vs. last year. The May issue was up nearly 5% while the July issue increased nearly 10% compared to the respective May and July issues in 1999.
It is also important to mention -- as we did to the writer in advance of the article -- that full-year ad page estimates for 2000 will show the decline for George narrowing to near 25%. More importantly, ad revenues will finish off only 6% to 8%, not 63% as reported.
Lastly, if the writer had considered that Editor in Chief Frank Lalli and I joined George in December, long after 2000 advertising decisions were made, a fact widely reported in the press, the real story would have been how quickly George is back on-track with the ad community.
What a brand is
Re: Randall Rothenberg's "Still hooked on `fast branding'? Ponder the lessons of Boo.com" (Viewpoint, AA, May 29): Well said. My recent experience as a creative director working on a dot-com account pretty much corroborates what he is talking about.
My client and (sadly) former agency believed that simply pounding a brand name into consumers' heads with uninspired advertising is the way to create brand preference and action. It isn't, and the client's business is tanking as a result.
The trouble as I see it is most clients don't even know what a brand is. If you asked a thousand clients to define "branding," I'll bet only a handful would even hint at the concept of a "value proposition." My experience has been most equate "building a brand" with advertising; they don't understand a brand is merely a way for consumers to organize in their minds the sum total of all their thoughts, feelings and experiences they've had with the product.
When working with clients, I like to use the analogy of a computer desktop icon. The icon we see on our desktops is not the file or application. It's merely a symbol of the file or application, a way for us to access them and organize the millions of lines of code into an easy to use format.
The same is true with a brand. Every experience we have with a brand (seeing the packaging, advertising, logo, using the brand's product) is like clicking on the desktop icon. It triggers all the other experiences we've had with the brand (positive, negative, or indifferent) and either re-affirms our past judgement or changes it in some way.
Clients need to realize advertising is only one experience consumers have with the product, and a relatively unimportant one relative to actually using the product. The advertising we did proved moderately effective at getting people to our Web site. Trouble is it appears once people got to the site they weren't too impressed and rarely signed up.
My long-winded point is clients need to invest in getting their product right first, then worry about the advertising. A product is the parent of the brand; it gives birth to it, nurtures it, helps it grow up. If it's a good parent, that brand will grow and someday take care of its parent.
Look at Nike. Its running shoes (a quality product) gave birth to a great brand that is now supporting not only running shoes but tons of other athletic products. A great product can exist without a brand, but a brand can never exist without a product.
* In "Comings & Goings" (June 5, P. 42), the name of Elizabeth Brinkley, manager of licensing and merchandising, BBC Worldwide Americas, was misspelled.
* In "The jury's still out as Hachette chief finishes first year" (May 29, P. 3), New York Times Co.'s Golf Digest was incorrectly identified as a Times Mirror Magazines title. Times Mirror Magazines publishes Golf magazine.