Letters, June 8, 2009

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No golden age without Bernbach

RE: "New Book Paints Bernbach as Much Lemon as Legend" (AA, June 1). Rupal Parekh did a fine reporting job on my book, "Nobody's Perfect: Bill Bernbach and the Golden Age of Advertising," and how and why it came about. But without doubt, and my book makes clear, there would not have been a golden age of advertising without Bill Bernbach, flaws and all. P.S. He was never dull.
Doris Willens
Hightstown, N.J.

Ad Age too hard on magazine industry

Recently, Advertising Age published stories about the magazine industry that misrepresented facts and omitted key data.

"Magazine, Newspaper Readers Aging at Accelerated Rate" (AA, May 25) gives the incorrect impression that the readership for magazines is aging "rapidly" based on MRI spring data. In fact, magazine readership and virtually all media are aging at almost the same rate as the U.S. adult population over the last five years. In that time, the median age of magazine readers has been consistently younger than the median age of total U.S. adults. And according to the MRI data not included in the article, one form of media, however, stands out for the rapidity in which it is aging: social networks.

Another recent article, "Marketers Losing Respect for Magazines?" (May 20) omits pertinent information as well. The story discusses recent ANA research about the diminished effectiveness of various media as brand-building channels over a two-year period. Except for a half-sentence reference to other media, the entire 14-paragraph article focuses on magazines, starting with the negative headline.

In fact, out of six media measured in both years of the ANA research, five showed declines in effectiveness. Why? For the first time ever, this year's ANA survey added online and social media (noted in the story). As any marketing researcher will tell you, because of this addition, the results of the two surveys are not comparable (not noted in the story).

Additionally, the article terms brand building a strong suit of magazines without mentioning that brand building is also considered a forte of other media that also declined in the survey. It's worth mentioning that MPA's advertising campaigns over the last four years have been based on research showing that magazines excel in ad engagement and accountability.

It's unfortunate that Advertising Age overlooked these key facts. If the above details and context were included, the stories would have been less sensational, but at least they would have been accurate.

Nina Link
Magazine Publishers of America
New York

Editor's reply: The article on print audiences stated clearly that readers' median age rose 1.6 years, "almost" the same as but faster than the population's 1.3-year rise, and that readers at 56% of the titles aged faster than the population. The article looked at a group of publications whose readers aged much faster, and countered that with coverage of titles whose readers got younger the fastest. MRI's spring data don't address social media; hence, it was not mentioned in this report. Ad Age has covered social networks' aging in several articles such as "Marketers Adapt as Social Networks Attract Older Users" (AA, Feb. 23).

The ANA surveys are comparable because they didn't ask respondents to divvy up their regard as in a pie chart; respondents were free to rate every medium a five out of five for excellence in brand building. A smaller proportion of marketing executives in the new survey gave a four or a five to magazines, TV, radio, outdoor or newspapers, as the graph accompanying the article shows, with magazines and TV tied for the biggest declines. Ad Age looked at magazines not only because of their sharp decline but also because brand building has always been a particularly strong suit for magazines. We will continue to look at what this survey means for other media.

We do not believe either article was inaccurate or sensational.


RE: "Boom in Issues Advertising Could Net Agencies $1 Billion" (AA, June 1). Due to an error by TNS Media Intelligence/CMAG, the story incorrectly reported that Conservation International had spent $19.8 million on issue ads. Spots associated with CI were part of a PSA campaign.

RE: Women to Watch (AA, June 1). Jessica Buttimer, global domain leader, Clorox Green Works, is 39. Univision's Graciela Eleta is senior VP-brand solutions. Vida Cornelious is VP-creative director, DDB, Chicago. Maureen Linder's name was misspelled. She is VP-global advertising at Campbell Soup Co.

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