Letters, May 26, 2008

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Corn confusion in movie article

RE: "What Popcorn Prices Mean for Movies." This article is an example of poor research and sensationalized headlines being presented as news.

The author stated that theaters' markup is 80% -- and the red-and-white tub your popcorn comes in costs more than the popcorn. Yet corn prices and ethanol are to blame for $6 popcorn?

I don't know about you, but I wouldn't want to eat the corn used to make ethanol; popcorn is an entirely different type of corn. Additionally, for each $5 tub of buttery popcorn I buy, the farmer's revenue is still less than 10¢, even after popcorn prices have risen.

Movie theaters have long profited from this revenue stream -- and this article would have had just as much impact had the author focused on the advertising opportunities associated with the fact that theaters can't raise the prices of concessions much more than they already have.

I would hope that Ad Age editors would encourage better research and fact checking -- especially before presenting editorial opinions as news on your homepage.
Nicolle Stumpf
New York

This article quotes Department of Agriculture statistics on field corn used for ethanol -- not popcorn. They aren't the same. Further in, you point out that the popcorn tub costs more than the cost of the popcorn in it, yet you lay blame for ticket increases on ethanol and field corn!

I read the study that this article is based on. It doesn't mention ethanol or corn prices being a factor. Yet you make it part of the title and the lead-in.

If popcorn prices double at the farm, you have about 4¢ more popcorn in your tub. Corn prices, and certainly ethanol, have absolutely nothing to do with this entire issue. Corn need not be a four-letter word in Hollywood, and your title shouldn't reflect that it is.
Mike Geske
Missouri Corn Growers Association
Matthews, Mo.

JetBlue has lost focus on customers

RE: "JetBlue Seeks PR Shop to Help It Out of Toilet." What's interesting about JetBlue is that at first it seemed that it got how important customers are. That was really exciting. But now there is a reason why it may not put customers first: Oil prices are going up, so its "cost of doing business is going up."

The first place the company cuts? Working on its brand image and its customer-relationship strategy. Hmm, interesting. So, instead of cutting the executives' salaries, the first place they think of is cutting customer-facing initiatives. Isn't the lack of those what got them into trouble in the first place?

How about cutting the C-level executives' salaries until JetBlue is out of the storm with customers? The company could take a lesson from Lee Iacocca's $1 salary years ago. Now that would be a PR message with far-reaching customer reactions.

What is it going to take for executives to get how important customers are? Losing them all?
Nat Petouhoff
Consumer experience and service senior analyst
Forrester Research
Marina del Rey, Calif.

Maybe if JetBlue focused on customer service and its horrible flight delays, it wouldn't need to raise fees. I was issued countless vouchers last year for gross delays. Tell me that's not avoidable. The bottom line is hurting because of mismanagement, not fuel prices.
Mike Rosenthal
Hollywood, Calif.


The following corrections and clarifications are from Agency Report 2008 (AA, May 5):
  • Estimated 2007 revenue for Interpublic Group's Reprise Media was $12 million (not $7.8 million).
  • Estimated 2007 revenue for Omnicom Group-backed Critical Mass was $73.5 million (not $67 million).
  • Estimated 2007 U.S. revenue for Havas' Euro RSCG Worldwide network was $404 million in 2007 and $393 million in 2006. (The "Top 15 Consolidated Agency Networks" chart incorrectly listed Euro RSCG's worldwide revenue as U.S. revenue.)
  • International Marketing & Sales Group is an agency holding company operating in Russia and other markets. It was incorrectly listed as an independent agency network.
  • The 2006 ranking of IBM Corp. (IBM Interactive) among the world's top 25 agency companies should have been marked "NA" (not 73).
  • Interpublic's Berenter Greenhouse & Webster is a general-market ad agency. The Agency Report poster incorrectly described it as a health-care agency.

For updated rankings based on the data revisions, see Agency Report in DataCenter.
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