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I welcome the [ad agency] holding companies' [decision to withhold] any income reports or financial reports ("Agencies refuse to disclose data, citing federal law," AA, March 17).

On the lighter side, this fixation on size, billings and their supposed clout produced some of the most boring agency presentations in the world. On the not-so-lighter side, this fixation also produced the holding company behemoth, which has produced at best, marginal improvements in how we do business.

Now that we can move away from this "bigger is better" mentality, we can focus on the three things that should matter to advertisers. [They are] developing the correct message to persuade consumers or non-consumers, integrating all the many communication channels and proving that we obtain results.

It should also prove to be a first step toward improving our financial situation. The "bigger is better" mentality, and the resulting "I am not paying you 15%" reactions, started suspiciously close!

Marcelo Salup

Exec VP

International Media Director

Foote, Cone & Belding Worldwide


Quality creative has big payoff

I was gratified to note John Harpur drew the conclusion that memorability of Super Bowl commercials had less to do with the amount of GRPs and more with the quality of the creative ("Is Super Bowl worth it? Creative is key variable," Letters to the Editor, Viewpoint, AA, Feb. 3). I couldn't agree more.

Our company has been demonstrating to its clients for the past two decades that the leveragability of creative is far greater than media pressure. And the range is enormous. We have observed the most efficient commercials are able to leverage GRPs 30 times more than the least efficient commercials.

And to Mr. Harpur's point about taking creative into account for sales-effect modeling, not only have we observed this within continuous tracking and copy research, but it factors into the market modeling we do. As an organization dedicated to the quantitative measurement of advertising's impact on brands, we recognized very early the undisputed role of creativity.

Philip Herr

Senior VP

Millward Brown

Fairfield, Conn.

Advice to Heyer: Let's get real

I've been very amused by all the hullabaloo over Steven Heyer's view of Coca-Cola and advertising ("Heyer's calling: collaborate or die," AA, Feb. 10). What everyone seems to forget is Coca-Cola is simply a bottle of soda in a sea of sodas. It's not a "feeling" in search of some mystical consumer connection. It's all about why should I grab a Coke instead of a Pepsi? Or grab a cola at all? Marketers can't seem to stop attaching abstract attributes to products that simply are what they are.

What makes Coke different from other colas is the critical question. The answer is that it is "The real thing." It's not just "Real." Or "Always" or anything else. It's also the "world's favorite soft drink." And since people tend to buy what others buy, that's not a bad idea to communicate. My advice to Mr. Heyer: Get real.

Jack Trout


Trout & Partners

Old Greenwich, Conn.

TiVo user says nets have much to fear

In "Just a midwinter day dream? TiVo a boon for the TV nets" (Viewpoint, AA, Feb. 10), Rance Crain writes: "The numbers show that viewers like to graze among many programs, as evidenced by the fact that some programs pick up millions of viewers as they progress. TiVo, of course, would be of no help to all those grazers."

This is true only because viewers have never had an option before so they've had no choice but to "graze" in order to find decent programming. As an ad exec and a two-year user of TiVo, I can tell you from personal home experience that the networks have much to fear, indeed. Digital video recorder technology has a profound impact on viewing behavior. In addition, this technology, and its use, is still in its infancy. Take a longer view and it isn't hard to grasp the implications. It will be fun to look back on his insightful piece five years from now.

Mike Sullivan


The Loomis Agency


Perplexed by support for TiVo business plan

Re: Rance Crain's "Just a midwinter day dream? TiVo a boon for the TV nets" (Viewpoint, AA, Feb. 10). I was happy to read that someone cut-to-the-chase on the value of these [digital video recorder] devices. What's more perplexing is the backing of the business models upon which these "businesses" are based. I recently asked what makes TiVo believe it can sustain its business given a non-existent revenue stream running a few years out? It boasted about its influence in TV households. But they happen to generate a paltry seven rating points a week!

Paul Benjou

Director of Client Services


New York

TiVo makes viewers master of TV domain

I must disagree with Rance Crain's column "Just a midwinter day dream? TiVo a boon for the TV nets" (Viewpoint, AA, Feb. 10). TiVo (and other like devices) will play a major role in shifting viewing habits. ... With an out-of-control world, people will gravitate to those ideas/products/services that give them a sense of control. TiVo fits this mold perfectly. As prices come down, more and more consumers will join the "zapping family."

Bill Keck

Kansas City, Mo.


* In the table "War news boosts Web usage" (March 24, P. 3), the traffic data for WashingtonPost.com was incorrect. The data shown were for FoxNews.com. WashingtonPost.com posted 773,000 unique visitors for 3/13 and 997,000 for 3/20, a 29% increase in at-work traffic, said Nielsen/NetRatings.

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