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GM's next step

Regarding the recent articles on General Motors Corp. ("GM's brand management report card," AA, March 9; "Brand wisdom still eludes GM," Viewpoint, AA, March 16):

Studying the market and focusing exclusively on customer needs is a necessity in vehicle develop- ment to ensure that the right vehicles are produced for the right target market. But these factors alone can't guarantee the vehicle will turn heads and generate sales in the marketplace.

Since most people have formed some type of opinion about a vehicle based upon pre-existing beliefs or personal experience, creating customer enthusiasm for a new vehicle needs to be achieved through advertising.

Specifically, the advertising has to capture the audience's attention in a unique way and delight them with something they didn't know about the vehicle. So what is GM waiting for? Stop studying the research results to death and get on with the next step.

Ethel T. Olcsvay

East Brunswick, N.J.

What `Titanic' shows us

Myra Stark's article " `Titanic' brand possibilities" (Forum, AA, March 9) proves once again the adage "we are all trying to be enlightened."

The "Titanic" story indeed depicts similarities to what Joseph Campbell would have described as the archetypal "hero myth," whereby the hero's life is sacrificed for the spiritual growth and redemption of others.

Author Harry Moody in "Five Stages of the Soul" shows us "Titanic" is not the first film or literary work to depict this cross-cultural and timeless phenomenon in our search for meaning. He compares George Bailey's experience in "It's a Wonderful Life" and Dickens' character Ebenezer Scrooge as modern mythological tales of spiritual calling.

Writers of these stories along with "Titanic's" knew which buttons to push to make us reconsider our own values. Those values turn out to be the antithesis of material well-being and previously held meanings of a successful life.

Ms. Stark's question, "Now what does a spiritual journey have to do with consumption?" misses the point of the journey completely. A link between earthly consumption and spirituality would more likely provoke ire rather than admiration from anyone searching for higher meaning.

Ms. Stark also asks "Should we be asking about the soul of the brand as well?" At some point hopefully even consumers realize that it's unlikely for any brand to have what is truly unique to sentient beings, that is, a soul. Let's not make fools of ourselves by wasting misguided spiritual energy in trying to raise our brands to levels they will never achieve.

Robert A. Gallo

Director of advertising, Florida Lottery

Tallahassee, Fla.

The McDonald's question

What in the heck does "Did somebody say McDonald's?" mean? That McDonald's was popular at one time, but now almost forgotten? Like Hadacol? That McDonald's is a bizarre or zany choice for fast food? That Burger King and Wendy's have taken over, and McDonald's is No. 3, so it tries harder? Whatever it means, it sounds halting, tentative, shy and weak. Certainly a long way from the commanding tone Big Mac assumed in the past.

Lawrence T. Barnett Jr.

Glencoe, Ill.

Brinkley revisited

Rance Crain overlooked one very important point in his column "What I don't understand: Huizenga, huff over Brinkley" (Viewpoint, AA, Jan. 19).

I have no problem with [David] Brinkley continuing his earning power as a spokesman for Archer Daniels Midland. They did enjoy a very successful relationship . . . What does bother me were the commercials ADM used to sell this new affiliation. To quote Mr. Brinkley: "I will speak straight and true. . . I will never change that . . . But, now I will bring you information about food, agriculture, the environment . . . issues of importance to the American people and the world."

A quick analysis of that statement clearly leads one to believe that Mr. Brinkley will be doing news specials on ABC, perhaps on "Primetime Live" or "20/20," discussing these issues.

Eugene B. Cofsky


Ted/Lor Entertainment Marketing

Tarzana, Calif.


* In Photo Review (March 16, P. 30), in the photo of Amazon Advertising's anniversary party, Lynda Pearson is on the left and Millie Olson on the right.

* In "AT&T names FCB Direct for all college marketing" (March 16, P. 43), Foote, Cone & Belding, New York, handles AT&T's consumer and business-to-business advertising; FCB, San Francisco, handles wireless. Y&R Advertising, New York, handles corporate branding.

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