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Thank you for the insightful article by Jay Woffington ("Rx ads mired in `50s tactics," Viewpoint, AA, May 5). As a former consumer package-goods marketer who now consults for pharmaceutical companies, I constantly espouse the values of creating a relationship with the consumer, in this case called "the patient." Unfortunately, many pharmaceutical companies fundamentally believe that their industry is "special" and that some of the basic principals of marketing don't apply to them (the same argument I used to hear from the now mostly defunct dot-com companies).

But as their drugs go over the counter, pharmaceutical marketers and agencies are learning there is no point of differentiation vs. the competition and that consumers don't identify with their brands. The good news is that we are in the very early stages of the Rx-to-OTC era. If brands act quickly, they can create a relationship with the consumer before they lose patent protection. Only then will consumers feel comfortable paying more for a brand name at the shelf that sits right beside its generic counterpart, such as Tylenol and Nyquil.

Sean P. Connell


Connell Associates Market Research

Glen Rock, N.J.

On `ad assembly line,' measure quality, too

The sirens are already sounding: "What in the sam hill was Sam Hill thinking when he suggested in `An ad assembly line?' (Forum, AA, May 26) that agencies `... automate the ad development process' to sell on the promise of lowest-delivered cost?" Nothing less than what will be required of agencies that want to survive in the future.

His premise falls short in one key area. The principal that will provide the impetus for gains in efficiency is measurability. This is a concept that most agencies talk about as the latest management rage. But it's time to get serious about what measurement means.

Top-line growth and bottom-line savings drive agency profits, and there is no question that new business is the fuel in the growth engine. However, agencies that cut staff as the primary expense-reduction solution every time the business turns sour cannot survive. Clients and shareholders demand accountability, and this is where it starts.

The argument is not over the loss of creativity in a world where measured results are paramount. The key is focusing on efficiencies that provide a high level of quality while not compromising creative work, measuring those efficiencies and then figuring out how to improve upon them without succumbing to mediocrity. Like every other business, success will be achieved by those agencies that can define quality on their client's terms, measure it and provide it at the lowest cost

Jeff Jacobs

Exec VP-Marketing & Planning


Troy, Mich.

Meridian is a unit of Applied Graphics Technologies' Black Dot Group.

Worry less about the Cannes judges

Re: "Honda ad hype is overdone, `spots' no longer stars of show" (Viewpoint, AA, May 12). Scathing! I appreciate the sentiment.

But, then again, I've never been to Cannes.

I appreciate the "grass roots" nature of this business because I've never experienced the luxury of working with a million-dollar director. At our level, we have to scratch and claw for market share, sales, etc., with every $10,000 we have!

I wonder what kind of backlash this will generate among the mega-agencies that rely on Cannes to shape the personality of their creative departments.

This is the age of corporate consultants and retired marketing chiefs, such as Sergio Zyman, touting, "Advertising as we know it ... is dead." Are they right? To truly find out, maybe we should spend less time worrying about the judges at Cannes and more time exhuming the corpse.

Joe Sacco




`Muddled' Rothenberg wrong on TV spots

Re: Randall Rothenberg's column "Honda ad hype is overdone, `spots' no longer stars of show" (Viewpoint, AA, May 12).

The only problem with Mr. Rothenberg's opinions is that they are completely muddled.

He talks about a "broadband world comprised of multiple effective channels." Has he been sleeping while most broadband sits idle and most companies that relied on this gold mine have gone under or been indicted?

It wouldn't be too off-the-mark to also suggest that once you can get broadband capability on every computer and hand-held device, you'll probably get messages that look an awfully lot like today's TV commercials-unless you believe in the ultimate power of banner advertising.

Mr. Rothenberg also touts the wonders of the "age of interactivity." While interactivity might be the wave of the future, depending on how you define it, it certainly hasn't yet transformed the world of marketing here or in other parts of the world.

He also tells us of the wonders of "sponsored entertainment," a practice that goes back to the beginning of commercial radio.

While embedding a product in an entertainment venue may be the profound marketing wonder du jour, we have yet to agree upon the metrics to adequately assess this wonder and return-on-investment is a sometime thing.

No advertising agency is wedded to a single device (not in today's competitive environment). And no agency is telling clients that it's a 30-second TV spot "or the highway."

Nor am I aware of clients believing the money they spend on broadcast advertising is a total waste, and that it all should go into PR or video games.

Every communication medium, broadcast or otherwise, should be judged on its merits and its ability to evoke some positive response in the recipient.

As for [the Cannes International Advertising Festival], it's important to note that Mr. Rothenberg's Booz Allen Hamilton has created none of the work presented there.

Bruce Meyers

Marketing/Advertising Consultant

New York City

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