Letters, September 7, 2009

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Nation split on political talk shows

RE: "Political Talk Shows Talk Themselves Out of Ads" (AA, Aug. 24) states that advertisers have become "skittish" about appearing on all of these programs. I think it's important to differentiate between the shows that forcefully express political views, whether conservative or liberal, and those that are inflammatory. Glenn Beck, whose statements first provoked marketers to pull their ads, tells out-and-out lies, uses vituperative language and encourages his followers to act out. He is not alone at Fox News. MSNBC commentators are similarly outspoken, even fiery, but to my knowledge have never stooped to hate speech.

As a regular viewer of both Fox News and MSNBC programs, I think there is an important role for political "op-ed" programs, which should not pretend to be true news-reporting programs. I hope that advertisers will continue to sponsor responsible talk shows.

Judy Langer
Langer Qualitative
New York

I have a slightly different view on this, it seems. If I was an advertiser, I would be standing in line to advertise on one of these polarizing shows. Why? The old saying: If 50% of the people love you and 50% hate you, you will be very wealthy, but if 100% kinda like you, you will be very hungry.

Create a special product just for the show's viewers. Sell your product with a red or blue label. Donate a portion of each product's sales to the political party represented by it.

Having passionate consumers is the greatest way to grow your product. Have you talked to someone who uses a Mac lately? Passion rolls out of them.

If you don't like the show, don't watch it. If you don't like the product, don't buy it. But don't boycott because they advertise.

If I was at Clorox, I would sponsor a show called "Come Clean America." Have pundits from the left and right come on each week and rant away. Support free speech in its greatest form and make a mint doing it. Gotta love a capitalistic world, huh?

Scott Lovingood
Riceville, Tenn.

Bartering easier said than done

RE: "In Recession, Media Bartering Is Back on the Rise" (AdAge.com, Aug. 31). In the media business, you get what you negotiate. Since barter is not an everyday occurrence, many clients don't know what to negotiate for. As an example, if a barter company requires a percentage of cash from the client in addition to the client's merchandise, the barter company is actually not bartering media; they are bartering a media discount, which is profoundly different. This isn't necessarily a bad thing. Understanding how (and why) these discounts vary, and the degree to which the barter company discloses these answers, are just a few facets of a multifaceted transaction that, like any other business decision, should be thoroughly researched before being entered into.
Jeff Wolfman
Broadcast Marketing Corp.
Brooklyn, N.Y.

Social-media usage has to evolve

RE: Chris Perry's "Why Social Media Isn't Living Up to the Hype (Yet)" (AdAge.com, Sept. 1). This article is full of great points that fall down to one maxim: Using antiquated broadcast-marketing methods with emerging relationship-marketing tools doesn't work. When your Twitter feed is all about your company news and offers rather than having mentions of or replies to other people, you're posting a billboard in the Sahara.

Social-media tools are designed for two-way or community communication, not single-channel broadcast communication. When they aren't used for what they're designed to do, they don't work. That's why the people who don't use social media daily, and with more in mind than pimping products, don't 'get it' and think it's a waste of time.

When you have serving your audience, or collaboration, in mind, you'll benefit greatly by utilizing the power of social-media platforms to reach interested and targeted audiences through real-time search and other tools.

Brett Greene,
Boulder, Colo.

You touch on a very important fundamental point. Business has changed. Brand building has changed. It's no longer us-them, the passive customer. It's now the collective "we," the active participant.

The fuzzy management of social right now reminds me of when brand building was relegated to a "marketing-only" function. But over time companies realized that brand building was a companywide function, requiring understanding, engagement and alignment of all employees. So, too, will this be required for social media.

Eric Brody
Morristown, N.J.

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