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The legendary copywriter and iconoclast Howard Gossage was fond of saying, "Advertising is not a right, it's a privilege. Our first responsibility is not to the product, but to the public."

Thus, the implicit concern in Bob Garfield's provocative article "Please, please mind manners" (AA, Aug. 15) is not whether these ads "work," but why someone, somewhere along the creative/management track, didn't say, "I don't care whether this is exactly what our target audience wants to see, we shouldn't be this base."

The responsibilities of the truly professional advertising practitioner, Gossage argued, go well beyond the pecuniary and in-your-face creative. They involve advertising as an often omnipresent element in a hopefully civilized society.

Thus, just because something can be done doesn't mean that it should.

Kim Rotzoll

University of Illinois

Urbana, Ill.

Bob Garfield has again proven to be phenomenal in his views of the advertising industry. I agree totally regarding the offensive advertising we are subjected to every time we turn on our television. I am highly offended by the companies that create advertising that encourages teens to defy adults and promote disrespect. Isn't this the problem we are facing in our schools? This kind of advertising promotes self-indulgence and selfishness.

My suggestion is that some computer wizard design a program for our televisions that would not only zap through the commercials when you are recording, but even when not recording would automatically mute and black out the screen for all advertising. I would gladly give up the intelligent and humorous advertising so that I would not be offended and my children would not be subjected to steamy clips from adult prime time movies, or empty-headed offensive ads that encourage unacceptable behavior. I certainly will not purchase those products promoted by advertising that encourages children to be disrespectful and defy adults.

Marlene Asbjornson


Bob Garfield, please, please mind your manners. Lay off personalizing Leo Burnett and making him seem responsible for the sins of his heirs.

Leo said this to those of us who wrote ads under his direct tutelage:

"An advertisement must be in good taste and observe `the fitness of things.' It is like a personal salesman in this respect. Avoid all possibility of giving offense through (a) smart aleck cleverness; (b) making fun of any race, religious belief or political group; (c) drawing conclusions or making unfavorable comparisons with anybody's conduct, character or goods."

Couldn't have said it any better yourself, could you? Leo, I believe, would be as aghast as you are at "Hock a loogie" and everything around it ...

Kensinger Jones

Editor's note: Mr. Jones, a former senior VP and executive creative director at Leo Burnett Co., is now a lecturer at Michigan State University, East Lansing.

Bravo to Garfield for writing about advertising's poverty of manners, and to Ad Age for running it. Offensiveness and creativity have too often been taken to be one and the same in our industry. And too many of us have kept our mouths shut in public.

Tony Hertz

Creative director, McCann-Erickson


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