Letters, March 1, 2010

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Initial reaction to Woods presser far from favorable

RE: "Watch Tiger Respond to His PR Crisis" (AdAge.com, Feb. 19)

Overrehearsed, wooden, disingenuous. His performance looked like it was inspired by "The Cliché PR Handbook." Stare ruefully at the camera at critical points; beseech people not to blame his wife (Huh? Did we ever?); lie about the whole golf-club-window-smashing thing; blame the media; play the religion card; appear to choke up; hug your mom; go ahead and hug a few other people; hug your mom again.


Who is doing PR for this guy? Run, run away, like Leo should've on "Shutter Island."

Tiger, just play golf and tough it out. The only reason anybody cares about you is because when you golf, you're magic. Don't bother with the rest of it, live your life the way you want, it's nobody's business as long as you're not creating this stupid myth around yourself and your mystique ... cuz that ain't ever coming back, anyway.


True dialogue key to building trust with consumers

Re: "In Age of Friending, Consumers Trust Their Friends Less" (AA, Feb. 8)

Your recent story encouraged us to question word-of-mouth. While it's great to be skeptical of industry logic, I don't want brands to assume that we should no longer focus on creating recommendations. Edelman's report demonstrates a general skepticism of sources and a need for deeper verification when making a purchasing decision. But that doesn't mean we no longer trust our friends. Instead, it means we don't trust all the people in our ever-expanding network indiscriminately. It means we're more likely to trust those who have firsthand experience or those we know well. And it means we'll have to hear that recommendation multiple times from multiple people before we act. That means social media can't be seen as the "silver bullet" and that social media dialogue must come alongside outreach to the press and analysts, partnerships with academics and other trusted voices, and strategic use of company spokespeople.

CMO tenure is key to brand erosion

RE: "Hmm, It's 2010 -- About Time for Chipotle to Switch Up Ad Agencies" (AA, Jan. 18)

A recent Ad Age article on "Serial Reviewers" warned clients who frequently oust agencies, like 1-800-Flowers, Quiznos, Chipotle and BMW, are "hurting their brands and risking a bad reputation" in the advertising industry. What the article didn't say was that CMO tenure plays a bigger part in brand erosion than any agency's missteps. If clients fix that, they fix a much bigger threat to their brand than a poor agency choice. They might even save a good agency relationship.

The best agency in the world will struggle with a client who replaces its CMO every two years. Take Chipotle: even though it's cycled through four different agencies in six years, it's only recently named a CMO. Quiznos changed chief marketing officers three times in six years. When the C-suite shifts, companies experience a lack of leadership and clear direction–the kiss of death for an agency relationship, and potentially more damaging to the brand than hiring the worst agency on the planet.

Agencies aren't without fault. Clients don't make changes when everything works. But if things seize up because of musical chairs in the executive suite, tell your agency, because even if you don't, they know it. It's human nature to blame the other party and show them the door. Ultimately, client/agency relationships are stronger when both sides are willing to point out their failures. That honesty and transparency may open up a dialogue to fix the problems before the need to change agencies–and that could be good for everyone.

Ad Age, Court made the wrong call

RE: "Court Made Right Call to Protect Free Speech" (Editorial, AA, Feb. 8)

Your editorial "Court Made Right Call to Protect Free Speech" is contemptible. Despite what you claim, the position of the courts prior to the Robert's Court Citizens United decision fully "pass[ed] constitutional muster." In support of the point, corporations do not (or should not) possess inalienable human rights. They are not citizens.

Your example of Candidate X vs. Industry Y also is specious. How is it that you reconcile a candidate going on C-Span at 1 a.m. with its audience of 50 being balanced by a corporation who can easily levy a media buy of $10 million, say, on the nightly news of the major networks? More is the point that if Candidate X rails in the media against, say Goldman Sachs, then fully Lloyd Blankfein, or one of his supplicants, is certainly to be afforded "equal" time. And he will undoubtedly get it in exponential measure to that of Candidate X.

Your self-serving position will be hailed by the TV-advertising industry, no doubt. But the blowback of the Roberts' court's lawless decision is, ironically, the destruction of the tissue of democracy for which the Constitution was written to preserve. Speech will be compromised. The most powerful economic interests in the nation are now free to manipulate not just individual politicians and electoral races but political discourse itself. The advertising industry surely will profit in the short term. But the long-term social and economic future of the republic, I would argue, has suffered a terminal blow. That is not in the industry's best interests.

How to fix the Oscars

I never miss the Oscars, even when the broadcast is less than stimulating. But I have a few suggestions on how to build more interest in the show. Rather than having 10 movies nominated for Best Picture, follow the lead of the Golden Globes and nominate five in the drama category and five in the comedy category. Do the same with acting and directing. Comedies always get short shrift at the Oscars but have popular audience appeal. Since there is a specific category for foreign films, all foreign films should be in this category. It is illogical to have some foreign films show up in the Best Picture category while others are kept in the foreign category. The last suggestion is probably hopeless, but establish a rule that acceptance speeches by winners cannot include a thank you list to the people who worked in/on the film. That way, if it is disallowed, no one can feel slighted by not being mentioned. Plus, winners would actually have to think of something interesting to say.

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