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Fortunately, most editorials in Ad Age start at A and end at Z. However, the editorial in the Jan. 31 issue headlined "Names outlast reinventions" started at A and got lost.

As a former journalist at The New York Times, I learned early that editorials are supposed to express a point of view. I assume that the editorial writer had an idea at the beginning of the article about where he was going, but I still can't figure out where he was going.

The editorial started out by talking about companies that entered new ventures that were inappropriate for the advertising business, and then talked about the fact that they got out of those ventures. Then the editorial took a sharp left turn and said, "We're talking about their agency's brand name," which had nothing to do with the previous three paragraphs. The writer then added, out of right field, the following paragraph:

"Likewise, Backer Spielvogel Bates Worldwide (another merger creation) is looking to reposition itself, giving more prominence to `Bates' because the name Ted Bates still has brand equity in other lands."

The editorial ended by saying "No set of initials can match the radiance of illustrious names, past or present."

I would like to remind the editorial writer that Backer & Spielvogel, at the time that it merged with Ted Bates, had grown in a 5-year period from zero to $550 million in billings-the fastest growth in the history of the advertising agency business. The Ted Bates agency had had a long and distinguished history as well. A merger followed, not a "reinvention."

Therefore, it seemed to make sense that the name should be Backer Spielvogel Bates Worldwide. At least it seemed that way to everyone but the person who wrote the editorial.

Despite the fact that the editorial continued to note that "no set of initials is appropriate," I suggest that the writer look at Ad Age news pages each week and check the way they refer to such agencies as J. Walter Thompson Co.; Leo Burnett Co.; Foote, Cone & Belding; and Young & Rubicam. I think the author will see that they are referred to as JWT, Burnett, FCB and Y&R, etc.

Carl Spielvogel


Backer Spielvogel Bates

Worldwide, New York

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