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Retailers must use direct marketing to try to re-create the kind of individual relationships that customers yearn for, says consultant Gilles Goldenberg.

Mr. Goldenberg, Deloitte & Touche partner responsible for retail consulting in Paris, addressed executives in Brussels this month at a seminar on advertising effectiveness in Europe. He said one of the major problems retailers face "is the lack of personal relationship between them and their clients."

Keeping businesses cost-effective, especially in France, the U.K. and Germany, makes a return to face-to-face dealings hard to achieve, he said, but making greater use of direct marketing techniques to rekindle the kind of individual relationship that people want is the way to go.

Judy Judd, international business director at Alice, Paris, spoke about the essential elements for cross-border ad campaigns.

"You are probably best off not to try it, but if you [do], stick to very simple rules," she advised. "You have to get away from local advertising culture, and France and the U.K. have very specific ones. You are better off telling a story so that people can follow it through from beginning to end."

John Philip Jones, professor of marketing at Syracuse University, noted that media advertising has been stagnant or declining since 1984 and contended that has boosted the already great competition between ad agencies.

As a result, "clients have progressively reduced agency compensation, thus diminishing agencies' ability to generate superior advertising-something that might compensate for the flattening of media investments," Mr. Jones said.

The only way that advertising can re-establish its commercial viability is by a dramatic improvement in ad accountability, he said, explaining, "The industry must demonstrate-unambiguously-that advertising pays."

In the past, the ad industry couldn't demonstrate the short-term, sales-generating effectiveness of advertising except in direct response. Today, however, sales measurement by scanners makes it possible to track sales on a week by week, or even a day by day, basis, he said.

But Paul Feldwick, executive planning director at BMP DDB Needham Worldwide, London, said that, despite frequent calls for advertising to be accountable, "it is very rare for a campaign to create an increase in profit big enough to cover its cost."

He added: "The justification has to be that without [advertising], sales would suffer. It is, therefore, fair to describe the objective of much advertising as defensive."

Other speakers at the conference, organized by Advertising Seminars International, Brighton, England, included Anne-Marie Verdin, Euro Disney ad director; Malcolm Hunter, head of planning, Lintas, Paris; and Nigel Hollis, group research and development director at market research company Millward Brown International, Warwick, England, and exec VP at Millward Brown Inc., its U.S. division.

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