Advertising Age, in its April 24 issue, used thoughtful and heart-warming judgment in devoting the cover story and lead editorial ("The End of Innocence") to the Oklahoma City tragedy.
The problems, trials and tribulations of the world of advertising pale in significance compared to the catastrophe in Oklahoma City.
Thank you for having your editorial priorities in focus.
Richard C. Christian
Medill School of Journalism
The end of innocence? Well, we weren't all that innocent, were we? Humans are a violent race, and we have always vigorously pursued destruction for gain. The only thing we do more aggressively is to ignore our tendency to do so!
We're like the universal 3-year-old covering his ears, singing loudly to block out the world.... If we keep singing, perhaps our basic nature will change. Never mind that we've changed very little since we stood upright a few thousand years ago.
This fact is painfully evident in the cry heard after Oklahoma City from even our "civilized" sectors: "Kill the bastards." But our ears are still covered, and we go on chanting our mantra, "Never again." We said it after the Crusades. We said it after Normandy. We said it after Auschwitz. And we said it after Oklahoma City .*.*.
Yes, we can kill the bastards, and keep killing them. But the truth is, the bastards are us. And we can't change it until we believe it.
No Waco, no Oklahoma City. Is that a fair statement? Where were the pictures of charred Davidian cult children? Who in the media prayed on the air for those children, whose homes, lives and parents were destroyed in front of flashing bulbs and cranking cameras?
Perhaps if you had devoted your front page and a fourth of your magazine to lamenting them, the avenging angels may have been placated. Who knows?
Going back 50 years, we decided to destroy women and children in order to facilitate the end of a bitter war. Right or wrong, the U.S. has, is now and will continue to pay for that decision.
Waco was another such decision, except that, to many knowledgeable Americans, the Davidians were blameless.
Some Spanish spoken here
In your "Profile: Hispanics" piece within the Automotive Marketing section (AA, April 3) you have arrived at an enormously misleading conclusion based on a statistic that was not even sourced. You state that "some 83.9% of Hispanics in the top 10 markets speak Spanish at home ...."
Considering that one of the characteristics unique to the Hispanic market is the concept of the extended family living under one roof, it is true that, in order to communicate with Abuelita (Grandma), many second- and third-generation Hispanics are utilizing their Spanish. However, to infer that 1) any usage of Spanish necessarily means that is the only or primary language in the household, or 2) the younger members (under 40) of the Hispanic household are choosing to speak to one another in Spanish, is misdirected.
You then conclude from this gross generalization that ".....Spanish-language ads will be more effective-and received better-than ads in English."
If you refer to your own Special Report: Marketing to Hispanics (AA, Jan. 23), you will find that the highly accredited Nielsen Media Research states that 21% of Hispanics speak only Spanish at home. An additional 28% speak mostly Spanish at home, and, stretching this example to the maximum, an additional 15% speak Spanish and English equally. Even these three categories combined don't equal 83.9%.
Other guys did it first
In re "Who Are These Guys?" (AA, April 24):
I congratulate Odiorne Wilde Narraway Groome on their success at the San Francisco Show. It's great when a new agency surfaces and shakes things up a bit. They should grow and be profitable for many years.
And I respect Jeff Odiorne for being honest about their guerrilla tactics being done before.
However, let's be totally straight about one thing. The concept of "putting the tactics together in a plan that is designed to be a hit and run," and the opportunistic, non-traditional thinking of "trying to do stuff that's on the edge, that gets a lot of free media time and gets people talking," as Mr. Wilde notes, is not distinctive or differentiating.
It was begun in the late 1980s and raised to an art form in the early 1990s at Kirshenbaum & Bond. First with Kenneth Cole shoes and the New York Post, and evolving with ideas such as the Hennessey Martini, the work really got people talking about the products (and buying them).
If imitation is the highest form of flattery, OWNG could do a lot worse than positioning themselves in the same vain as K&B.
Senior VP, Parrish Wickersham & Partners, Boston
(formerly of K&B)
Phone wars plea
Will someone please tell AT&T and MCI to change their advertising tactics before the mute button on my remote wears out. The in-your-face advertising of both companies is a disgrace. Plus, those overpaid actors working for AT&T and MCI are one of the reasons our bills remain so high.
There is plenty of room in our great country for good, solid competition, keeping in mind that civility is never out of style.
Spec work not new problem
Reading Professor Eugene Secunda's Forum article, "The rising expense of luring business" (AA, March 13), was like being in a time warp.
Professor Secunda acknowledged that "The agency business has always involved competing in an endless series of hard-fought contests ...." He went on to say that "While agencies frequently committed major human resources to acquire business, they generally didn't spend a great deal of the money they earned from existing clients to pursue any single client."
I got a marvelous laugh from his comment that "Further, it was recognized that prospective clients wouldn't have much respect for an agency's sense of professionalism and self-esteem if it initially gave away samples of its product (the advertising ideas), hoping that it would be compensated for its work if the account was won."
Where has Professor Secunda been for the last 20 or so years? A quick look through Ad Age's library would show that, dating back to the 1970s, agencies have been spending steadily increasing amounts in the pursuit of new business.
Somewhere in the late '70s, I recall David Ogilvy wondering in an Ad Age article something to the effect of how long were agencies going to hawk their wares on street corners like common street walkers?
As for prospective clients not respecting an agency's sense of professionalism and self-esteem if it gave away samples of its product, was the good professor kidding?
If he can name five clients who ever said that, a day's research will give me names of 100 others who not only welcomed speculative creative, but fully expected to see it.
Rare is the client who really cares about an agency's bottom line. A few prospective clients put Band-Aids on their consciences with fees for "out-of-pocket" that bring a whole new meaning to the word tokenism.
Let's face it, a lot about the advertising business doesn't make business sense.
A footnote to Eugene Secunda's thoughtful musings on the spending of huge dollars in developing very elaborate and very speculative presentations.
Milton Biow (whose heyday as a giant agency presence dates back to the first half of the century) had a point of view on that. He repeatedly said that "ideas from the outside are usually inside out."
Distinguished visiting professor
St. John's University
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