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Media executives who have fought against the CPM-is-everything buying philosophy must have been heartened to see how the TV networks-supposedly dying dinosaurs-have soared into the $1 million-a-minute category for premium shows.

Those shows likely won't be on the buy list for Campbell Soup, where Media Director Marianne Ham, pushing for more cost-efficiencies in TV and print, declares, "We look at the rates and get the best deal. That's what media's all about." One print exec, bewailing being dumped from the food company's list, said Campbell used to buy individual titles "but now it's simply CPM, CPM, CPM." Meanwhile, an agency buyer talking about the new TV season tells Variety that "the price is relatively expensive for `Spin City' because it's demos, demos, demos."

The point is numbers alone would not dictate the prices top network shows are getting. Even last season advertisers were paying household CPMs of $27 for "Seinfeld" (one of the million-a-minute shows this season) vs. $17 for an average NBC show. Over and above the demos-the $60,000-plus, college-educated households-the top-price shows provide an unduplicated reach and such intangibles as association with a popular star.

Such factors are certainly central to the talks Young & Rubicam has been having with NBC about a closer working relationship between Y&R's big-spending clients and NBC's broadcast network, cable operations and online services. It's a thrust beyond the normal time buys.

Y&R Chairman-CEO Peter Georgescu put the creative aspects of media selection in perspective: "The agency business is not just about selling the lowest cost-per-thousand to clients," he said. "That's bad for media and bad for clients."

Few things tell the tale of advertising's effectiveness as clearly as the Partnership for a Drug-Free America's latest presentation on the growing use of illegal drugs among teens. It shows clearly that, as the perceptions of risk and social disapproval rise, drug use drops, and vice-versa. Kids today view illegal drugs as less dangerous and more acceptable, and usage is on the rise.

There are several reasons for this trend, including

less in-school education and fewer news stories on the anti-drug battle. But there's also a clear correlation between drug attitudes and usage and the amount of media support given to the Partnership's commercial messages. As support rose sharply in the early 1990s, trends in monthly use of illegal drugs by teens fell sharply, to as low as 5% in 1992. As support declined in recent years (from $365 million in 1991 to a projected $260 million this year), teen drug use shot up to 11%.

With the drug epidemic now established as a partisan political issue, attention is once more being paid to the war on drugs. That can only benefit the Partnership. Now it's up to media companies to turn over more time and space to the Partnership's public service ads. We challenge the media community to get behind this effort with the goal of surpassing by 1998 the previous peak of $1 million a day in support. This will change the perceptions of drug use among teens and influence behavior.

The Partnership's presentation, by proving advertising's effectiveness, also strengthens the argument in favor of using advertising-not government-imposed marketing restrictions-to combat the problem of teen smoking.

Media support can-and should-make a difference.

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