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The role of PSAs

The "Campaign Clout" column in the April 22 issue leads the reader to believe that in the field of public service advertising, the messenger is more important than the message.

Public service advertising is not intended to publicize the merits of the advertising industry; rather, it serves as a vehicle for well-meaning organizations to educate the American public about issues ranging from preventing drug abuse to improving the environment.

In both commercial and public service advertising, it is the product-whether soda or Smokey Bear-that must inspire and motivate the audience. Advertising agencies know that they stand in the shadow of their creations, and the greatest compliment any agency can receive is public recognition and response to its messages.

I agree with the writer's concern about the reputability of the advertising industry, and I believe that public service advertising is an important way our industry can improve its negative image. Our industry should take pride in the fact that public service advertising has helped to reduce drunk driving to its lowest rate ever, convince 66% of Americans to "Take a bite out of crime" in their communities and increase safety belt usage from 11% to 68% over the last 10 years.

Clearly, these messages have been successful because of the contributions of the industry.

Better awareness of PSAs, and the dedicated people who make them possible, begins within our own industry and is generated by the continued support of the advertising industry, and public service advertising is positive proof that our business is creativity-with a conscience.

Ruth A. Wooden

President, The Advertising Council

New York

First-run shows reign

It was nice to see some coverage of syndication in the "TV's Upfront" section (AA, April 22). Although syndication will top $2 billion in ad revenues in 1996, we have often felt that the industry received less coverage in your pages than it deserves. However, your coverage gives a misleading impression of syndication's prospects going into the upfront, which needs to be corrected.

Your writer apparently equates "excitement" with off-network shows, and suggests the market will be lackluster until 1997, when "X-Files" and "Frasier" enter the marketplace. This places too great an emphasis on off-network programming versus the mainstay of syndication, which is original, first-run programming.

While off-net shows such as "Home Improvement" have indeed been big ratings winners this year, they comprise less than 15% of the 164 daily and weekly syndicated series airing this year; and an even smaller share of the available barter inventory. Most of the action on syndication-in terms of both programming and advertiser investment-is in first-run programs like "Entertainment Tonight," "Hercules" and "Live With Regis and Kathie Lee."

As for prospects for the fall, syndication is aggressively positioned with new first-run shows such as "Rosie O'Donnell," "F/X" and "Access Hollywood," to name just a few.

Furthermore, in contrast with network TV, syndication's share of broadcast viewership increased again this year, to over 33%, and the recent scatter market has been solid-two key facts which were overlooked by your writer.

Tim Duncan

Executive director

Advertiser Syndicated

Television Association

New York

Section was accurate

The heading of "Special Advertising Section" on "Consider the Alternatives" (AA, April 22) may have been misleading to some of your readers.

Special sections based on advertising often raise questions about the credibility of the story told. I hope no one was misled.

Your section was an accurate and well-written piece of journalism about the dynamic growth of an unusual print media niche.

I've been professionally involved with more than 50 alternative newsweeklies as a consultant since 1985. You reported the truth as I know it.

Alternatives provide a low risk and high return for advertisers, readers and entire communities served. Operated by dedicated entrepreneurs, alternatives are thankfully not your everyday newspaper, nor will they be common Web sites.

Bob Kehoe


Publishers Resource Organization

Tampa, Fla.

Where the heroes are

Sports marketing is part of the curriculum I am involved in at college and your article of last Oct. 16 on sports marketing by Jeff Jensen helped to shed light on a high-stakes, big-money enterprise. I was excited to read about who runs these large companies' advertising and marketing departments.

Every day on television I see the athletes who endorse the products, but it's not very often you read about the men behind the scenes who run the show.

The athletes who wear the shoes and display company logos usually get all the fame and recognition, but it is evident that the real pressure is on the top executives. In the world of sports marketing today, these are the real heroes.

Shane S. Galbraith

Mt. Pleasant, Mich.

Toasting the Romanovs

I really enjoyed Jim Brady's Feb. 5 column, "Make way for the Romanovs." I'm a long-time Russophile myself, and this topic isn't part of everyday conversation here in the ad biz in Detroit.

Recently in London for Sotheby's Russian Week, I found myself spending literally hours and hours in discussion about the fate of Nicholas and Alexandra and their impending interment. All this culminated in a very solemn stand-up tearful toast to Nicholas, Alexandra and their children. Jim Brady would have enjoyed it!

Kathleen Charla

Kathleen G. Charla Associates

Troy, Mich.


Advertising Age welcomes letters to the editor, but we ask that they be held to no more than 250 words in length. The editors reserve the right to edit letters. Address letters to Advertising Age, Viewpoint Editor, 740 Rush St., Chicago 60611. Fax: (312) 649-5331. Letters can also be e-mailed to [email protected]

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