LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Published on .

Floods are one of the deadliest weather phenomena in the U.S., and most drownings involve people who choose to drive into flood waters. Because the management and staff at the National Weather Service are serious about saving lives from severe weather, we conduct extensive awareness activities in conjunction with organizations such as the Red Cross, Federal Emergency Management Agency and the National Safety Council to educate people how to avoid putting themselves in harm's way.

Volkswagen's new advertising for the Touareg sport utility vehicle serves only to undermine these lifesaving messages.

We are concerned the new campaign, which dramatizes the new SUV forging through standing water, could encourage motorists to engage in life-threatening behavior. While the mechanical and passenger components of the Touareg may not be affected by water almost two feet deep, motorists have no way of knowing the depth of water or speed of water they are about to drive into. Floods often wash away road beds, making the water much deeper than expected. Regardless, two feet of moving water can push a vehicle downstream, placing occupants into a perilous situation. For these reasons, the National Weather Service encourages motorists who encounter flood waters to "Turn around, don't drown."

John J. Kelly Jr.

Director

National Weather Service

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

U.S. Department of Commerce

Silver Spring, Md.

Classmates validates online community model

Congratulations to Classmates.com ("Classmates.com hits TV," AA, July 7) on its big field trip "offline." As a CEO of another community site that serves the alumni market (www.thesquare.com), I am thrilled to see that Classmates has even further validated the left-for-dead online community model. Many have heralded the power of TV to drive audiences to the Web. Here is the first-but surely not the last-example of a site driving its tightly bound and loyal online audience back to TV. The company has been profitable online and will now seek (and I am certain they will find) even greater success on TV.

Nicholas Ascheim

CEO

TheSquare

New York

Garfinkel was on target on consolidation's cost

Kudos to DDB Worldwide's Lee Garfinkel, at June's American Association of Advertising Agencies conference, for tracing advertiser discontent to the wave of agency consolidation and acquisition, which in his words has "left clients reeling" ("Lee Garfinkel decries ad industry hypocrisy" AdAge.com QwikFIND aao75c). That is because advertisers are now left with far fewer creative choices, as evidenced by Mr. Garfinkel's recitation of such highly differentiated agency brands as Scali McCabe Sloves and Ammirati & Puris having been homogenized into the holding company behemoths and then disappearing. ... He is likewise spot on by observing that clients in many instances contribute to the problem, whether it be through their own inefficient processes and structures for getting "best work" from agencies or their enabling unproductive work practices and re-work rates at their agencies.

As for Donny Deutsch's remarks against agency disclosure at the same meeting, full disclosure is the law of the land for agencies. Since clients receive this information in other partner/supplier relationships, why not from agencies? The only caution [is that] this information should be fairly and professionally used by the client.

Moreover, agency salaries are available to anyone who wants to put forth the effort to get them. Contact a recruitment firm or, better yet, go to a benchmark salary database. Most agencies have provided salary information to clients since the early days of fee arrangements, provided it is 1) given to a credible party and 2) kept in confidence and the specifics-by-individual not disclosed to the client.

The real (and only) issues for clients are in the realm of "value-for-money," "accountability," "benchmarking" and "stewardship." These are the performance standards. To focus solely on salaries is myopic, and failure to disclose to a client only serves to create larger questions in the client's mind.

Arthur A. Anderson

Managing Principal

Morgan Anderson Consulting

New York

Despite recall results, KFC spot dim witted

Bob Garfield berates KFC's latest dim-witted spot featuring Jason Alexander and Annika Sorenstam ("KFC crowed about an effort that turned out to be a turkey," AdReview, AA, July 21). The following week two versions of that spot top the Recall Index ("Ad Age/IAG's Top Spots," AA, July 28). I pray that next week the gloat is back in Bob's court.

Ken Anderson

Sherman Oaks, Calif.

Toyota needn't look for a Scion sale here

In some roundabout way, Bob Garfield has confirmed he's not the [Toyota] Scion target market ("Toyota finds attractive effort to push the plug-ugly Scion," AdReview, AA, Aug. 4).

Don Smith

Copywriter

Hoffman/Lewis

San Francisco

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