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While attendees at the Association of National Advertisers' 87th annual meeting talked about building brands, incoming Chairman Ron Cox admitted the association is still working on enhancing its own brand equity.

"We are working on our price-value relationship" for members, he said. "Our mission is to become experts in total communications."

Mr. Cox, group VP at Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co., said ANA is aiming at becoming more pro-active with its membership, increasing its focus on brand-building disciplines beyond media advertising, such as packaging, research and interactive marketing.

"We're trying to broaden our umbrella," he said. "Advertising isn't the only area we have expertise in."

To that end, the association has added elements such as the CASIE Awards (the Coalition for Advertiser Supported Information & Entertainment) to recognize the importance of online marketing in brand-building.

To further demonstrate the value of ANA, Mr. Cox said the organization was reaching out to smaller advertisers with more regional meetings, encouraging membership among retail advertisers and reviving the Coalition of Brand Equity-a program designed to quantify the value of advertising.

ANA's change in direction, Mr. Cox said, is already reaping positive results. Membership is up 10% this year, and indeed, attendance at this year's meeting topped the 200 mark for members, a record.

Mr. Cox predicted it would also be a good year for advertising in general. He said members are giving a resounding vote of confidence in media advertising. "There's less downsizing and budgets aren't being slashed like they were last year," he said. "That takes a toll on the membership."

In addition to Mr. Cox, ANA named two executives to leadership positions: James Garrity, VP-communications at Compaq Computer Corp., was named vice chairman, and Michael Soriano, VP-marketing services at Warner-Lambert Co., was named ANA treasurer.

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