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Get ready for tomorrow

I have followed the numerous articles and letters in your publication and others pertaining to the direct marketing industry selling via television. As readers that also follow these articles are aware, many so-called gurus of the industry are still telling us to beware. Some tell us that the technology is still not ready, and it will be many years before it is. Others tell us that the consumer is not ready, or that the consumer believes that only low end shoddy merchandise is sold on TV. Let us look at these two points more carefully:

"The technology is not ready." True, the technology is not yet available for real interactive cable TV or PC, but it is getting closer to being there by the second. Are the writers who are telling us to wait the same ones that told us not to proceed with 800 telephone service in the early '80s; or are they the ones that told us that computers would have only a minimal impact on the industry?

"The consumer has a bad perception of the merchandise offered." That may also be true, but the consumer image will change as soon as this fall when some well-known players enter the TV scene. Why is it good for these big players and not for everyone? 800 service worked for everyone!

It is necessary for all of us to insure that marketing plans and product positioning is such that our companies, and/or clients, can move into interactive the moment any opportunity arises, and we must be out there creating those opportunities, not waiting for them to come to us!

Ernie Edelstein

VP, The Marketing Arm

La Jolla, Calif.

Coiner's contributions

Charles Coiner's selection by the Advertising Federation of America for induction into their Hall of Fame on March 29 is an honor and recognition long overdue. This, despite the fact that possibly less than 10% of people working in advertising today recognize the name or know anything about Coiner's great creative contributions to the agency business.

Back in the late '40s and early '50s, when N.W. Ayer was an awesome presence in Philadelphia, with just a small branch office in New York, Charles Coiner was their art department head and the creative spark and inspiration for the entire agency.

This was a time in the agency business when there were no creative award functions: no Clios, Andys, One Club, no Cannes Gold Lion Awards. But there was Charles Coiner's "One Hundred Best." Each year, Coiner would select what he considered to be the 100 best print ads of the past year (TV was yet to be taken seriously). His selections would be published, along with the names of the copywriters and art directors responsible, in a leading trade publication. This was the only and most prestigious recognition creative and craftpersons could achieve, and many a career took off after receiving this accolade by Coiner.

At this time, in '48 and '49, our fledgling headhunting firm, Jobs Unlimited, occupied an off-the-lobby office space on West 46th Street, which included a large showcase window at street level. With Mr. Coiner's permission, we contacted each of the award-winning art directors and copywriters and requested a tear sheet of their ad. The ads were then appropriately mounted and put on display in the window on 46th Street. Admittedly, this was part self-serving; but more importantly, at that time, it was possibly the only showcase of the best advertising available for public exhibition.

Jerry Fields

Jerry Fields Associates

New York

Opinions aren't facts

Hold your horses!

The screaming headline, "Teen smoking and ads linked; All advertising could be at risk" (AA, Feb. 21), is blatant hyperbole. What you have here is a simple public opinion poll that is twisted by your reportage into some sort of scientific proof regarding whether cigarette advertising influences children and teen agers to smoke. It's wrong on two counts:

First, any opinion poll, Ad Age/Gallup or otherwise, is just that; opinion, not fact. For example, just because a majority of people may have an opinion Tonya Harding is guilty, this is in no way evidence of her guilt (or innocence, for that matter). The same holds true for a causal relationship between cigarette advertising and youngsters smoking, as suggested by your poll results.

Second, the sampling was among adults, not the alleged advertising target audience of children and teen-agers. Why not ask people under 18 who are smokers whether advertising is the culprit? (From your sidebar concerning children's inability to associate Joe Camel with cigarettes, one would suspect the link between advertising and smoking is just as tenuous.)

Do you really believe the poll substantiates your conclusions? Or could it be that baseless conclusions such as yours virtually assure national media coverage (especially during National Heart Month)? Come on. You can be honest with your readers, can't you?

James Kemper Millard


Waterwild Marketing

Lexington, Ky.

Pepsi, Bayer broke the rules

Rance Crain's column on Crystal Pepsi and Bayer Select (AA, Feb. 21) reminded me of an old adage that needs to be put up on the walls at every agency and client:

"Marketing professionals need to distinguish trends from fads and reality from perceived wisdom."

Pepsi got caught up in the "clear" fad and is now moving to correct the mistake. Sterling Winthrop made a $100 million mistake by falling prey to two current traps: (1) using what I call "real estate marketing" (proliferating SKUs just to gain or hold shelf space), and (2) ill-conceived extensions of brands based on tautological research. (Of course back-pain sufferers will tell you they want relief from your product and will buy it.)

Both programs broke the adage's two cardinal rules.

Don A. Spence

Daniel Adams Co.

Danbury, Conn.

Leaving civilization?

Re: "City-weary ad execs cry: `WESTWARD HOpeful'*" [an article about people moving to the Rocky Mountain West, AA, Feb. 14]. Where are these people going to go for sushi, tapes and Vietnamese rolls?

What about facials and foreign language courses? Does Bozeman, Mont., have an orchid grooming service? How far will they have to drive for good wines?

Judy Shireman

Shireman & Shireman Research

San Francisco

Long-distance hangup

I want to congratulate our long-distance telephone service providers for consistently offering unique and meaningful promotions.

A brief review of recent advertisements uncovers the "i plan," Friends and Family, Best Friends, most-called-area-code, most-called number and 1+0+ATT+0.

Then, of course, there is a selection of clever 800 numbers from which to choose: 1-800-CALL ATT; 1-800 COLLECT; 1-800 OPERATOR; 1-800 THE MOST; 1-800 BE CLOSE; 1-800 TRUE USA.

To those responsible for this seemingly endless parade of undifferentiable, unrecognizable, unmemorable and certainly unpersuasive mnemonics, I offer a suggestion: 1-800 GET REAL.

Elizabeth Brooks


Dinah Shore and Chevrolet

Thanks for mentioning Dinah Shore's passing: a great advertising spokesperson. (We'll never know how many Chevys she personally sold on the "Dinah Shore Chevy Show," 1956-63.)

Few celebrity spokespersons have generated the owner loyalty Ms. Shore did for Chevy, as well as significant Chevy dealer support. I recall a zone manager, Tom Hart, hauling a group of southern California dealers out to LAX just to greet her from some long trip-dozens of dealers all under umbrellas in heavy rain, in support of their spokesperson flying home!

She was a remarkable ingredient in the success mix of Chevrolet in those glowing years.

Joe R. Eisaman

Eisaman, Johns & Laws

Los Angeles

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