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Lately, there have been numerous articles and speeches expressing concern over the state of the advertising business. For example, [MARC Advertising President-CEO] Anthony Bucci lamented in an Advertising Age column ("Ad leaders neglecting Four A's," AA, May 19) that he believes some top agency leaders do not appear interested in taking a sufficiently active role in bettering the business.

To some extent, this is true. However, at the American Advertising Federation, we see the glass as half full-and we plan to fill it to the top.


Granted, there is a lot of pressure on the advertising business these days. There is continuing pressure from local, state and federal lawmakers who would like to regulate, censor and, in some cases, put an outright ban on truthful advertising.

There is also a broad lack of awareness among the public about the positive contributions advertising makes to the economy and to society as a whole. People do not appreciate the degree to which advertising creates jobs, fuels media, informs and entertains. Young people do not think of advertising as an exciting or interesting career.


In part, this is because many in our industry define it too narrowly. A more valid definition should include all aspects of marketing communications and not just paid media.

However, it is also because we in the industry don't trumpet that this is a varied, inclusive and ever-growing business. In the past few years, new technology has created whole new categories of advertising and jobs. No industry is more at the center of these sea changes than we are, and we are leading and managing these changes. The excitement of our business needs to be recognized much more strongly than it is.

These hurdles are not insurmountable. The industry needs an advocate; a clarion voice heralding the benefits of advertising to the country, emphasizing the key role it plays in the fast-developing world of communications. This needs to be done on a sustained basis and the AAF is going to do it.


A recent survey of AAF's key corporate members showed three- quarters of them were interested in supporting AAF's launch of a nationwide public awareness campaign to demonstrate the contributions of advertising.

Another indication that ad professionals are taking an interest in industry affairs is the following: Over the past year, AAF's membership has been joined by 10 major national corporations and nearly 2,000 individuals, either at the national or local ad federation level.

Perhaps most importantly for the future of the business, 21 universities across the nation have joined our network of 215 AAF campus chapters.

This is not a theory. These are hard data, actual numbers, and those numbers do not indicate apathy and neglect to me. On the contrary, I would say that most people in this business-whether in the dawn or the twilight of their careers-love advertising and are not afraid to roll up their sleeves and show it.

Building on the enthusiasm we see among our members, AAF is launching a major public relations effort to promote the value of advertising.

We will be targeting the general public, students, lawmakers and even those professionals in our own business who may have allowed their passion and enthusiasm to wane a bit.

Who better to sponsor a major communications program than the industry others hire to promote them? Instead of physician, I would say, "Advertiser, market thyself."


Building on AAF's fusion of agency, corporate, local and college members, this campaign will draw on our collective strengths to produce positive, measurable results.

All eyes are on the future: the next century holds mystery and promise in the same hand.

This is an exciting time, and we're in an exciting business. I know it, AAF members know it and everyone else should know it, too. This group of advertisers is stepping up to the plate to make sure they do.

Mr. Baker, chairman-CEO, Warwick Baker O'Neill, New York, is concluding his term as 1996-97 AAF chairman. The AAF is holding its national convention in Kansas City June 14-17.

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