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Bob Coen responds

The article "TV could beat newspapers as top ad medium" (AA, Feb. 14), which questioned the reliability and acceptance of the advertising spending and outlook reports that I prepare for McCann-Erickson, is based on inaccurate assumptions and unfair reporting.

The article reports on a Television Bureau of Advertising prediction that TV spending will rise to $33.2 billion in 1994, a $400 million margin over newspapers' $32.8 billion. It then quotes a TVB executive as generally praising the ad-spending predictions of another agency, which he says support his contention, and denigrat ing our num bers because they don't.

First of all, I do believe TVB's predic tions are too self-servingly high for televi sion and too low for news papers. TVB also presents a skewed com parison be tween the TV and newspaper media. The television numbers include all TV-national TV networks, spot TV and cable TV. But the newspaper numbers against which they're compared include only dailies. A fair comparison between TV and newspapers frankly would also involve adding estimates for weekly newspapers and free ones like some "Penny Savers," which are in my "Miscellaneous" category.

But my main argument with the article is with the unfairness of the reporting. Obviously, TVB is going to favor numbers that help it make a selling point. That's their job. They're not the first medium that has criticized our predictions just because they didn't support sales aspirations. I've always viewed the recurrence of this type of criticism as evidence of our objectivity.

It's surprising however that Ad Age this time would take such an obviously biased point of view and give it so much credibility. Since when is one medium's promotional arm an objective source for evaluating research into all the media?

The article also speculates about McCann-Erickson's continuing viability in this area because of my age. I can assure you that the McCann-Erickson Advertising Trend reports will continue long after I stop being involved in their preparation and will remain the ad industry's primary source for these statistics.

Robert J. Coen

Senior VP, director of

forecasting, McCann-Erickson

New York

`Dan & Dave' not a bomb

In your Page 1 story on the Nancy Kerrigan saga (AA, Jan. 17), the writer refers to Reebok's "Dan and Dave" campaign as an "Olympics-related marketing disaster," and goes on to say the campaign "bombed when Mr. O'Brien failed to make the Olympic team and Mr. Johnson turned in a disappointing performance."

It's true, Dan...didn't make the team. Dave Johnson, on the other hand, turned in one of the most gutty performances in the history of the Olympic games. On a right foot with the navicular bone broken clean through, Dave won a bronze medal in the decathlon, an event that takes two full, long days to complete. None of us can imagine the pain he endured during the competition.

Disappointing? I don't think Reebok would consider the sales disappointing.

Our company represents Dave's marketing interests and I assure you that Dave doesn't consider his endorsement opportunities disappointing.

Bob Mendes


Pacific Sports Productions

Monrovia, Calif.

Thanks for support

As one who has worked with the Partnership for a Drug-Free America since its inception, I thank you for your kind words in your recent editorial ("Why PSA causes falter," AA, Jan. 24).

It means a great deal to all of us to have had a positive effect and the continuing effort is greatly enhanced by support such as yours.

Allen Rosenshine


BBDO Worldwide

New York

Bud Bowl still sells suds

It seems rather interesting that Ad Age has seen fit to put a negative spin on the success of Bud Bowl VI. While the Madison Avenue Armanis were not impressed with the continuing Bud Bowl concept, apparently beer drinkers were. We had record display sell-in, record number of cases of Bud family sold in and tremendous sell-through of the product.

So while the "insiders" are apparently bored with Bud Bowl, beer drinkers (who I believe are still our target audience) and retailers are not, at least in my marketing area.

George Jacob

VP, Brewers Distributing Co.

(Anheuser-Busch wholesaler)

Peoria, Ill.

Memories of Burma-Shave

I read Rance Crain's column, "Superhighway needs Burma-Shave signs" (AA, Jan. 31) with great interest since I was the last brand manager of Burma-Shave for the American Safety Razor division of Philip Morris in the 1960s. Shortly after I left, PM sold the division to the employees, so it no longer controls the name or trademark.

But I certainly agree with Mr. Crain's thesis that great brand names deserve a better fate than some companies give them. Burma-Shave was rolled into the ASR division of Philip Morris, which also had a great brand name and advertising slogan. Remember Gem razor blades and the campaign, "Avoid five o'clock shadow"? Those signs were painted on the outfield walls of almost every major baseball park in America. They thought the Burma-Shave jingles were a perfect amalgam to that campaign. Unfortunately, their Personna blades did not capture the same magic or imagination.

I knew and worked with Leonard Odell [who ran Burma-Vita in the '60s with his brother, Allan, originator of the roadside signs] for five years and liked him a lot. Leonard's favorite verse was:

Within this Vale/Of Toil and Sin/Your head/Grows bald/But not/Your chin. Burma Shave.

One final footnote: Benton & Bowles, which handled a large portion of the Philip Morris business, picked up the Burma business. But unhappily the creatives at B&B thought roadside sign jingles were outdated and came up with some Oriental dancing girls and circus-decorated elephants (Burmese?). When my strenuous objections failed to move them, PM fired the agency. We then invited presentations from five other shops, only one of which urged us to capitalize on the Burma-Shave jingles...It was a newly formed group that split off from Jack Tinker & Partners, the creative boutique for Interpublic. The names of the three principals? Wells, Rich, Greene.

Needless to add, we gave the business to Mary Wells. At the same time, PM gave her a small new cigarette account to introduce, Benson & Hedges 100s. Dick Rich's campaign on "The disadvantages of Benson & Hedges 100s" is now also history.

When the government prohibited Philip Morris from selling ASR to BIC, under the dubious concept that it would lessen competition in the shaving market, PM arranged to sell it off to its employees. Sic transit gloria!

I fully agree that Allan (and Leonard) Odell should be elected to the Advertising Hall of Fame. Campaigns like the Burma-Shave jingle only come along once in a generation and should not be forgotten.

J. Mitchell "Mike" Jablons

Mike Jablons & Associates

New York

Ad themes that last

I was very interested in Bob Garfield's column in the Jan. 17 issue ("What taste? Diet Coke ads gulp down attitude").

Fortunately for Coke, consumers are very forgiving in the short run and their image may not be battered too badly.

It always amazes me how marketers frequently alter a brand's positioning for "change-sake." This is especially unfortunate for those brands that are firmly entrenched and successful because their reason for being is widely accepted by consumers. Witness "Good to the last drop," "Two mints in one," "Pepperidge farm remembers," etc. These campaigns were revived long after they were discontinued because they truly represented the consumer end benefit and character of the brand.

Hopefully it will not take the marketers from Atlanta too long to realize the reason Diet Coke is so successful among both men and women is because they drink Diet Coke "Just for the taste of it."

Lewis Brosowsky

Market research director

Pepperidge Farm

Norwalk, Conn.

Appalled at Saturn plan

The sixth paragraph of your Jan. 17 story on the "Saturn turnabout" contains a statement which-if correctly attributable to General Motors marketers-is, in my opinion, a truly stunning revelation of marketing incompetence.

If GM executives are, indeed, thinking about "adding (models) in order to keep Saturn owners in the fold when they are ready to move up in price ..." it proves GM execs still don't have a clue regarding why a car is a success in the modern marketplace.

Although I read the story in its entirety, and was appalled by other concepts which were (apparently) voiced by GM marketing people-the absolutely blood-chilling statement about "moving up in price," with its implication that the marketing philosophies of the '50s and '60s are adequate to the '90s, should cause any GM stockholder with a smattering of common sense to sell now.

David A. Evans

Park Ridge, Ill.

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