Your contest to "redeem Billy Graham's image" with a "marketing-advertising-public relations effort" indicates a spiritual blindness and insensitivity that is prolific in its proportions. You are referring to a man who has been used by God to impact more lives in our lifetime than virtually any man on the planet.
My suggestion for your contest would be a giant print and television campaign subsidized by your publication expounding on the incredible dangers of being so ignorant on the subject of God and spiritual things that you would actually stoop to developing a contest that would deride and ridicule one of God's most important instruments. .*.*. Billy Graham is not the one with the image problem.
Mark A. Kielar
CEO of WJMK
Boca Raton, Fla.
Linking Evangelist Billy Graham with the National Rifle Association is a large-caliber "cheap shot." In his most recent USA crusade, Graham had his highest weekly attendance ever and he out-drew even the Super Bowl in the Georgia Dome. All without hype or help from Ad Age or a Washington lobby.
Henry A. Dube
Stone Mountain, Ga.
Walter Bennett Communications is very proud of its 45-year history as the agency of record for Rev. Graham personally and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. We take great pride in representing a man and a ministry who have never wavered from their stated purpose to communicate the Gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the world.
We feel it is unfortunate that one small survey of fewer that 1,500 people-some as young as age 12-has motivated Advertising Age to send out a call to influentials to "redeem Billy Graham's image." Perhaps it would have been more appropriate to question the credibility of the survey as opposed to the credibility of a man who has devoted his entire life to the service of God and his fellow human beings.
President, Walter Bennett
In your Dec. 19 item about Ikea, you state that Ikea "will continue with plans to open one or more furniture stores in Israel next year." Ikea is currently investigating the viability of franchise stores in Israel as well as other countries in the Middle East. However, no definite plans are set at this time.
You continue, ".. despite the prospect of consumer boycotts from U.S. Jewish organizations" ... After I met with Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the Simon Weisenthal Center and discussed the situation, the center has announced it is satisfied Ikea was never involved in these actions [an Arab boycott of Israel] and has advised its members and others in the Jewish community that it does not advocate a boycott of Ikea.
Lastly, and most importantly, you state that Ikea "has reportedly spent $15 million worldwide on a public relations campaign." In fact, Ikea has not spent one dollar on a campaign of this nature, and would never dream of trying to buy ourselves out of a situation such as this. Ikea's position from the start has been to do everything we can to insure that all information about this issue has been made public, so all our customers can know the truth and make up their own minds.
President, Ikea North America
Plymouth Meeting, Pa.
Your article "Joe Camel heads for showdown in California court" (AA, Dec. 5) insists that "contrary to RJR's claim [that the Federal Trade Commission found no evidence that the campaign caused underage smoking], the FTC was divided on whether evidence supported issuing a complaint. The five-member commission split 2-2, with one abstention, on whether to issue the complaint." This is simply wrong. A commission majority voted 3-2 not to issue a complaint and to close the Joe Camel campaign investigation. There was no abstention and the vote was decisive, as the commission operates by majority rule.
Further, the majority opinion made it abundantly clear that, despite its evaluation of evidence, there was no legal basis to issue a complaint.
James F. Rill
Collier, Shannon, Rill & Scott
(Counsel to R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.)
Regarding Bob Garfield's column "USAir strategy provides no lift for troubled carrier" (AA, Dec. 5):
What is Mr. Garfield trying to tell us about USAir's ad campaign, in the wake of the latest crash? Is he suggesting USAir should admit blame? That they should say, "The facts speak for themselves, our planes crash more than our competitors"'? He suggests they should have voluntarily grounded their fleet and attempts a preposterous analogy, saying the grounding would offer the "Extra Strength Tylenol Effect." The only one who needs something extra strength is Mr. Garfield, in my opinion.
Grounding a fleet of aircraft interrupts passenger transfer to and from multiple connection and destination points. Grounding a fleet would severely impact cash flow and simultaneously destroy passenger and travel agent confidence. Taking aspirin off the shelf may hurt the brand, but it doesn't irreparably damage the manufacturer's business.
As far as admissions are concerned, USAir and their respective insurers have no doubt been unable to fully assess the liability exposure they face. .. Any admission of any kind at this point would exacerbate an already unmanageable legal scenario.
Preferred Payment Systems
Alexandra Ballantine engages in the worst kind of political correctness-mongering when she criticizes several computer ads that threaten customers with unemployment or premature aging if they don't use the right products (Letters, AA, Nov. 21).
She indicates that these ads are insensitive to the unemployed and to older workers. She says that "fear has always been a great motivator ..."
I agree. But if we follow her argument to its logical conclusion, we would not be able to promote acne medication because it would be insensitive to people with blemishes; we wouldn't be able to sell running shoes because it would be insensitive to people without feet; we wouldn't think of promoting expensive restaurants because it would be insensitive to people who are starving.
Ms. Ballantine is straying into dangerous territory in which advertisers can never imply negative consequences to the wrong purchase decision because it might offend someone. This is nuts! (Or is that offensive to the mentally ill?)
Ross Roy Communications
Bloomfield Hills, Mich.
After reading Fred Danzig's comprehensive review of Randall Rothenberg's new book, "Where the Suckers Moon," I won't be making a mad dash to the new book's display. I'm quite content to wait until this sardonic opus ends up on the bargain counter at my local Barnes & Noble outlet. I'm thinking I won't have to wait long to pay $3.98 or less.