Published on .

The passing on May 16 of Mark McCormack, founder and chairman of IMG Worldwide, the world's largest sports management and marketing firm, had significance for me and for the sports world. I worked for IMG early in my career and was fortunate to know Mark and two of his four children. At his memorial service, however, I realized Mark's life also had an effect on everyone in the modern-day fields of advertising and media.

In 1960, Mark McCormack shook hands with a young golfer named Arnold Palmer and agreed to represent him. Thus was born an industry: McCormack was the first sports agent. Over time, his company grew into a multibillion dollar business, and its list of clients was and continues to be second to none.

Until 1961, celebrities were rarely used to endorse products. McCormack invented an entire business that touches every discipline, from talent agent to advertising executive. Q ratings exist because of McCormack. Lawyers who negotiate rights on behalf of clients owe a debt to McCormack. He even turned the media industry upside down by convincing organizations such as the Olympics and Wimbledon that they were doing the media a favor by providing them with valuable content.

Entire industries have been built upon his ideas. I am convinced Phil Knight, the CEO of Nike, would admit that, but for McCormack, Nike would not exist. And as 18-year-old Lebron James relishes his $90 million Nike deal, before he's ever played a minute of professional basketball, McCormack's influence cannot be overstated.

If you were lucky enough to have known Mark, take a moment to think of him. If you didn't, think of him nonetheless, or read his worldwide best seller, "What They Don't Teach You at Harvard Business School."

And when you buy it, e-mail IMG that you bought it on my recommendation so that I can collect my commission! Mark wouldn't have wanted it any other way.

Steven Flanders


[email protected] JWT

New York

Upfront hardly disappointing

Your editorial "Captured by the upfront" (Viewpoint, AA, June 2) opines that the exhibited vitality of the recently concluded upfront TV marketplace is cause for disappointment, apparently because, in your view, it reflects an unwillingness to embrace other options. Among those ostensibly neglected options cited are PR, event marketing, in-store and the Internet.

Is the success of the national TV upfront, then, valid grounds for disappointment? Exactly to whom is it disappointing? Your editorial acknowledges that "it takes time and money to devise, test and exploit other strategies and tools." Your editorial goes on to note that marketers are subject to "upfront fever" in part because "they know how to buy and evaluate TV and other avenues are less certain."

Indeed! So let's recap. In perilous economic times, major advertisers, concerned with return on their investments, increasingly migrate their available marketing funds to national TV, a medium supported by ample measurement tools. To an unprecedented degree, these tools, buttressed by advanced analytics, permit these same advertisers to confirm the efficacy of the TV portion of their media mix on their sales and profitability. And you say that's grounds for disappointment?

In all likelihood, there are a number of ways in which the upfront marketplace could be improved. However, advertisers aggressively participating in this spring's upfront did so to insure the continued visibility of their brands' creative messages via the national TV medium. To suggest that such participation, in lieu of spending in support of less proven marketing vehicles lacking adequate performance metrics, is grounds for disappointment seems a bizarre point of view for such a highly regarded trade publication to adopt. ... As any horse player knows, while long-shots do come in on occasion, a steady diet of such wagers leads not to prosperity but to the poorhouse.

Dave Thomas

Senior VP

Nielsen Media Research

New York

Garfield `rants' miss `Catfight' ad strategy

Bob Garfield's rants about recent Miller Lite ads are silly ("Oversexed Miller spots show little regard for overall brand," Ad Review, AA, March 24). More importantly, he's missed the strategy behind them. Each execution portrays moments of male-bonding that interrupt courting rituals with women. These little vignettes simply exaggerated the problem: specifically, the discovery of a gender difference turns into a gender battle.

It's a simple, easily recognizable situation for most young, beer-drinking heterosexual guys: They're sharing a "guy moment" fantasizing about beautiful women, and they get caught at it.

So how does it sell the brand? The same way the Miller High Life spots Mr. Garfield has deemed "wonderful" sell that brand. They simply say to the target, "We understand you, we like you, we celebrate you." And this is a helluva lot more intriguing than most advertising strategy, which might suggest "you're a loser, but you can fix that with a (Miller beer)."

Tom Neveril

Neveril Planning & Research

Santa Monica, Calif.

Garfield is right about `Catfight' ads

As a VP at a Wall Street firm and the former president of a family and child advocacy group, Urban Family Council, of New York and Philadelphia, I applaud Bob Garfield for speaking up and out against the [Miller Lite] "cat fight" ads. I wish there were 10,000 more of him.

William T. Devlin


Independence Planning Group

Blue Bell, Pa.


* In "Consumer magazine advertising linage for January-March 2003" (June 9, P. 14), the column headings incorrectly said the data were for 2002 and 2001. The data were for 2003 and 2002.

* In "To win in business, sports, try thinking inside the box" (June 2, P. 24), Steve Collins, president-CEO of Omnicom Group's Martin/- Williams, was misidentified as Steve Williams.

Most Popular
In this article: