Letters, June 16, 2008

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U.S. News has not ceded ground

RE: "U.S. News Loses Weekly War as Sector's Ad Pages Plummet." While Nat Ives' story documented important issues about newsweeklies, the claim that U.S.News & World Report has ceded ground in that category misses the point. The newsweekly is an outdated concept, and U.S. News is the first of the traditional newsweeklies to move forward with a broader, strategic plan to address and overcome industry challenges. The strategy, as the article notes, has been acclaimed by numerous industry experts.

U.S. News began its migration to digital more than a decade ago, a move that has consistently paid off in terms of increasing readership. We believe that this growth was not accurately reflected in the Nielsen reports quoted in the article, due to its panel-based measurement, significantly undercutting our audience. Our own web analytics -- the same numbers by which we guarantee advertising -- show that our monthly unique audience is about 5 million and growing.

Recent Nielsen reports show that, in the first four months of the year, we averaged 1.9 million unique users, compared with an average of 1.3 million unique users in the first four months of 2007, representing a 46% increase.

U.S. News has clearly not ceded ground but rather is at the forefront of how magazines will evolve in order to stay relevant to a rapidly changing readership.

We are moving forward and, at 75, have never looked so good.
William D. Holiber
U.S. News Media Group
New York

This isn't time for Detroit to fall asleep

The Big Three U.S. car brands were playing catch-up as of the 1980s, and they played it poorly. They had historically built great big cars, but the oil embargo, gasoline shortages and skyrocketing prices changed the landscape. Customers wanted more-fuel-efficient cars, and they wanted them fast. The Big Three rushed smaller engines, new transmissions and front-wheel-drive cars into production, and reliability plummeted. Angry customers fled to more-dependable little cars, primarily from Japanese companies that had a several-decade head start because their nation's high fuel taxes and narrow roads demanded they build small cars. In 1979, the Big Three still sold nearly nine out of every 10 new vehicles on U.S. roads. By October 2005, cars made by the Big Three accounted for about 40% of the U.S. market, according to Forbes.

History is repeating itself. The SUV market is declining even faster as the oil prices are rising. The U.S. Navy, for example, is designing future ships using $225 per barrel as a baseline for the price of fossil fuel. Climate change, rising food and material prices, economy downturn, growth of world population and consumption -- it is all happening.

Hummer and the U.S. car industry, this is your wake-up call. Do not close the curtains and take another nap; you may never wake up again. Redirect all your product development and marketing efforts to a new era. Do not address your audience with your inside-out views. Listen to your consumers and stakeholders and the society at large. See the world from an outside-in perspective!
Christian ter Maat
Carevolution Management Consultants
Amsterdam, Netherlands

For Latino market, one size doesn't fit all

Now we're singing. For years, brands have questioned the power and uniqueness of U.S. Latino consumers despite the nearly $1 trillion dollars they pump into the economy each year. Brands have tried to cut costs and cut corners by using a multicultural approach -- developing one creative execution to work for diverse audiences. Or advertisers have subscribed to the notion that a simple translation from English to Spanish will reach and influence this powerful population segment.

Kenneth Gronbach refuted this concept in his June 2 piece, "The Six Markets You Need to Know Now," in which he acknowledged the complexity of the Latino market. The one-size-fits-all mind-set won't work to connect with the "freestanding, unique and quite valuable" Latino market Mr. Gronbach brilliantly described.

Not only should advertisers be investing 8% to 11% of their total advertising spending to reach Latinos, but using Hispanic-specialized agencies to communicate with and persuade this multifaceted audience is critical.

As Mr. Gronbach states, "This market has nowhere to go but up," and we hope more advertisers seeking a spike in their bottom line will take heed. Thank you, Mr. Gronbach, for your inspiring article. I look forward to finishing your book.
José López-Varela
Association of Hispanic Advertising Agencies
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