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In his Forum article, David Wolfe sees marketing execs failing a minimum standard of competence (AA, Nov. 11). He cites an 80% new-product failure rate as proof positive. The fact is, however, in the food industry a 20% success rate is praiseworthy. And that's been true for "lo these many years." One major reason is that most of those products aren't new at all. They are simply line extensions of size, flavor, packaging, etc., and most are replications of competition. How many varieties of microwave popcorn or salad dressing can make the cut on the supermarket shelf?

Really new items, meeting real consumer needs, well advertised, marketed and sold-for the most part, these account for the 20% success rate.

This is the flip side to the bad news. Mr. Wolfe claims that "neither our schools nor business organizations are equipping marketers with truly relevant skills for the competent practice of marketing." But the fact is we do have good people and good programs available to them. Unfortunately, we tend to see the downside of our data more clearly. How often have you heard a weather forecast of "sixty percent chance of sun"?

For those who doubt the excitement and the relevance of marketing professionals in today's tough times, just pick up your weekly Ad Age and turn to "Interactive"-it's enough to make you like your job

Leonard M. Rudy

Leonard M. Rudy Co.

Scarsdale, N.Y.

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