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There has been much written about agency loyalty over the last several years. Or putting it simply, the media has been casting stones at the very industry it services. It is unfortunate that your editorial "Is loyalty dead?" (AA, May 30) missed the very heart of the issue. The review was initiated by IBM, not the other way around.

I have worked as an executive recruiter for 12 years. Almost every agency I work with, including Ogilvy & Mather and BBDO, takes client loyalty extremely seriously. In fact, we are not permitted to introduce a candidate from another agency who works on any of the current clients' businesses. They feel that would be stealing from the mouth that feeds them. If that isn't loyalty, what is?

More importantly, over the last 10 years corporations have been acquiring companies for expansion and diversification. They have every right to do so, but these create conflicts at the agencies in competing categories. When Procter & Gamble bought Noxell, and RJR bought Nabisco and Philip Morris bought Kraft and General Foods, their interests were in the long-term welfare of their companies. As it should be. There was little hesitation about how these conflicts would affect their advertising agencies, no matter how good or successful the work had been. The agencies understood that and took it in stride, no matter how much it hurt.

Loyalty is an agency issue. Everyone strives to maintain solid commitments while there is a working relationship. But I say bravo to all the agencies who have had to take it on the chin with a smile when clients have been forced to move their accounts due to conflicts. Congratulations to those who have maintained their relations long after the working one has ended. As the saying goes, "What goes around comes around."

Sharon Spielman

Exec VP, Jerry Fields


New York

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