Letters, June 9, 2008

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Want the best from your interns? Pay up

RE: "How Can I Get the Best Out of My Summer Interns?" You forgot to mention one thing: Pay them.

I went to the Rochester Institute of Technology, where the co-op program for the school required companies to pay their student employees an hourly wage and make them work at least 35 hours a week in order to get credit for their classes. This program was great because it guaranteed that the students be paid for the experience that they get. For most programs at RIT, students were also required to complete a minimum co-op requirement (at least 10 weeks; for me it was 20, for engineers it's about 50 weeks).

Some people still see many of these internship offerings as slave labor. I wouldn't go that extreme, but creative agencies aren't going to be able to get away with getting free work from interns forever.
Bryan Yeager
Weymouth, Mass.

Ries forgot important test for ad slogans

Re: Ries' Pieces of Slogan Savvy. Ries makes a few fine and obvious points, but his article never rises above a primer, if for no other reason than he stresses linguistic attributes at the expense of context, such as a campaign's duration, exposure and execution. The test for a '"savvy slogan" is whether or not it completes the intended communication in a compelling way, one that helps eliminates the anxiety of choice in the consumer's mind. It's nice that Ries breaks down the attributes of successful taglines, but he fails to admit most slogans are written to conform to his standards and yet fail miserably, a list too long to mention here. The real test -- or "glue," as he put it -- is, oddly, the one he left out: veracity. Is it true? "Melts in your mouth, not in your hand," was brilliant not because of its alliteration but because it was true, and while repetition may have made Federal Express' line "Absolutely, positively" memorable, the campaign worked because the executions were flawless -- and the funniest thing on TV.
Robert Sawyer
New York

Brandcenter addresses the digital dilemma

RE: "Students for Hire." Thanks for the wonderful things you said about the students at VCU Brandcenter. As you point out, they are creative, idea-driven, strategic and insightful, and we're proud of the great work our graduate students are doing. And we know they go on to do great work, as almost 500 of them have demonstrated as professionals.

You do bring up some valid points on the digital dilemma. The challenge our industry needs to address is: What do we mean by digital? Unfortunately, the term "digital" has no real concrete definition, much like its predecessor, "new media."

While you were somewhat disappointed that the work you saw from the "digital natives" was "not more digital," I think you might have overlooked some clear directions on how the rising generation views digital. The "digital natives," as you call them, are not wowed by digital; it is part of their lives. It's commerce, communication, education and socialization. It just "is." They don't need to be wowed. It just needs to work for them. That is why, as you state, "most of the ideas were media-neutral; they really just want to do great work, however that gets best expressed."

Yet, with a few notable exceptions ( R/GA, AKQA,Tribal and a few others) your observation about the bold use of digital in the profession is correct -- and we want to help change that. This fall, we will begin a track at VCU Brandcenter called Creative Technology, which will focus on giving students and graduates the same fluid expertise and collaborative experience in digital technologies that we have in copywriting, visual creativity, communication strategy and brand management.

The goal isn't digital for the sake of digital but the strategic and creative use of technology in support of marketing goals. When approached correctly, consumer and brand engagement using digital technologies can be as powerful, as transformative, and as transparent as using analog and offline media and, in many cases, much more so.

So we hope you and others will join us again at next year's VCU Brandcenter recruiter session and see the great work our students and graduates are doing in whatever medium makes the most strategic sense for the brand or product they are marketing.
Rick Boyko
VCU Brandcenter


  • RE: "How to get your brand on Oprah." The article misidentified Head & Shoulders' public-relations agency. Marina Maher Communications handles PR for the brand.

  • RE: "Women to Watch." Peter Sterling was misidentified as part of a profile of McDonalds USA Media Director Anja Carroll. He is McDonald's VP-marketing.
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