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IRI on positive path

While we won't quibble with the facts in the article about Information Resources Inc. ("Troubled IRI forms joint venture," AA, May 15), nor the opinions of [Prudential Securities analyst] Jim Dougherty, the portrayal of IRI as a company in trouble is superficial and, quite simply, an old story.

Yes, the company has disappointed shareholders over the past several years. And the company did experience some operational problems three years ago, which led to the loss of a few significant customers during late 1998 and early 1999. It also led to a complete change in the IRI management team.

We certainly won't claim all of our problems are solved. But, then again, no company can. We can, however, state the following as fact: (1) We have won more business in the U.S. than we have lost over the past 10 months; (2) our international business is growing and is on track for the first profitable year since its inception in 1992; and (3) we have a pipeline of new and interesting Web-based applications -- some of which will be big ideas, others small enhancements.

Further, we have not wavered in our long-term commitment to provide high quality information and insights to our customers, and we have the team and a sound financial foundation from which to deliver.

Joe Durrett

Chairman, President and CEO

Information Resources Inc.


Show them the money

Phil Dusenberry has written an interesting piece regarding why many of the best young people aren't entering the advertising business ("Agency business needs to recapture the spark," AA, May 15). He dismisses the possibility low pay may be a contributing issue with the thought that those who don't enter advertising must be driven by greed.

Having taught advertising and promotions courses at the University of Wisconsin for 25 years, I'd suggest a different view and use a recent example that is prototypic of what I have observed.

Every semester I tell my students they should seek and pursue their passion in life and that the money will come along soon. Every semester most of the students opt for money and mainstream marketing positions. But there are always a few of the best with a passion to enter the advertising field. Most of them never make it because the salaries are so far from being competitive.

For example, this semester I had a very bright student with a passion to go into advertising. By coincidence, he got an offer from BBDO as well as one from a manufacturing company. The advertising position began at $26,000, while the other began at $52,000.

The student felt it would be difficult to live on the $26,000 and asked for a bit more. He wasn't asking for $52,000; he merely wanted to be able to cover his expenses while he began pursuing his passion. BBDO rejected him. They had many others waiting in line for the position, they said; he could take it or leave it.

Assuming BBDO made him this offer because it felt he was the best prospect, they consciously rejected the best and moved on down the list. Phil Dusenberry is wondering why the best often don't end up in advertising. I have watched this scenario unfold semester after semester.

Mr. Dusenberry has a wonderful plan to advertise a product that already is enthusiastically embraced by the target market -- but later is rejected when the target learns about the price. Many of the best are passionate about entering the field of advertising, but are dissuaded from doing so.

If we want to foster and grow great young talent, somebody will need to pay for it. If we are willing to settle for second best, then we don't need to develop the campaign Mr. Dusenberry is calling for.

Michael Rothschild

School of Business

University of Wisconsin

Madison, Wis.


* In "Pickett wins $15 million PeopleSoft account" (Late News, May 22, P. 2), Pickett Advertising won a $12 million to $15 million assignment, not the entire account, as originally reported. Incumbent Kirshenbaum Bond & Partners West, San Francisco, remains PeopleSoft's agency.

* In "TV Guide Channel sees sales jump" (May 15, P. 12), Gemstar International Group has not yet completed its $9.5 billion acquisition of TV Guide. The acquisition still needs regulatory approval. The story reported the deal had been completed.

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