Published on .

Bravo to [Coca-Cola Co. President] Steven Heyer for publicly pronouncing the current ad/content model broken, if not beyond repair ("Heyer's calling: collaborate or die," AA, Feb. 10).

Advertisers' fixation on the power of a 30-second piece of film is misplaced when more than half the viewing audience zaps to another channel before the spot even starts.

The solution, however, is not to sneak brand impressions into consumers' consciousness by weaving them into programming; it's to focus brand messages on environments where they're welcomed.

Let's take a lesson from the Super Bowl. If you tried to zap a commercial break during that telecast, you might get gang-tackled by your fellow viewers. The reason: The advertising is a fundamental part of the experience. No other TV program comes close to delivering that level of advertising connection.

Advertisers can find similar levels of connection elsewhere-faster, more efficiently and more effectively than by trying to reinvent TV advertising. Go where the attention is, rather than trying too hard to create it.

Here's an idea: On your way to the next "stealth placement" meeting, stop by a newsstand and buy a few magazines. There are about 3,500 to choose from and, in almost every case, the ads are card-carrying members of the total reader experience. And that's not a bad place to start overhauling the broken model Mr. Heyer was talking about.

Dom Rossi

VP-Executive Publisher

U.S. Magazines

Reader's Digest Association

New York

Can Steve Heyer deliver the goods?

It is no wonder [Coca-Cola Co. President Steven] Heyer got hired. Atlantans, parched for the ambrosia of leadership, heard sweet music in his visions ("Heyer's calling: collaborate or die," AA, Feb. 10). Can he deliver the goods?

Three pieces of evidence reveal the path Coke has committed to with Heyer at the helm: New advertising, new agency and new visions of grandeur by "connecting with people's passions" because "Coke is a feeling."

The obvious first: "Connecting with people's passions" is Steven Heyer-Ovitz-speak for entertainment as the answer for Coke.

Celebrities preening in their gowns/tuxedos-cum-Nascar suits? Warning: Branding moves to new heights of expensive irrelevance.

The old maxim, "When you don't know what to say, sing it", has now been taken to a new low: "When you don't know what to sing, have Penelope Cruz belch it."

Recognizing that Coke is a feeling is just one step. Recognizing that it's a particular feeling that satisfies in particular ways at particular moments is a giant leap Coca-Cola managers have yet to make, and is the only way for them to achieve true "user relevance."

Yet Mr. Heyer lauds his new ads for raising Coke's awareness. Coke has never had an awareness problem; it has a usage problem. Coke's current execution does not address user relevance. Brand "liking" is not brand power. With "brand liking" you still have to get consumers to buy and use (often by paying them and/or giving incentives to retailers to put it in consumers' way). "Brand power," on the other hand, delivers everything a business needs at once (sales + velocity + margin + loyalty + sustainability). And, brand power only comes from leveraging user relevance (when/why does usage of this brand matter?).

Which leads to Coke's recent agency change. McCann-Erickson [Coca-Cola's former North American creative agency] never had user relevance to work with so it couldn't deliver. Berlin Cameron/Red Cell [McCann's successor] won't have user relevance to work with either. It's not even looking for it.

Coke is a feeling-and one of the best in the world. The meaning of the feeling is Coke's truth, and that truth will set Coke free to achieve new heights. But the oracle in Atlanta has to believe in more than the power of celebrity to restore Coke's historic brand power.

Pam Murtaugh


Pam Murtaugh & Co.

Madison, Wis.

How the White House can tighten message

U.S. Secretary of State Colin L. Powell's recent superb perform-ance before the United Nations Security Council finally has demonstrated a strong case for disarming Iraq of its weapons of mass destruction.

Now it is essential that the White House follow suit by tightening its message on this very same issue. ...

President Bush has taken a step toward fixing the situation by establishing a White House Office on Global Communications.

This office must leverage presidential leadership while providing oversight and synchronization. This office must rein in the tough talkers by providing strategic direction and themes that reach foreign audiences. It must draw on many federal agencies and Americans to convey a few simple but powerful messages.

The Office of Global Communications must help identify influential and mass audiences across the globe; correlate media and other communications channels used and outline priorities.

Its goal should be to develop, with the State Department, cred-ible and effective public diplomacy themes, priorities and means of communication that display a unified U.S. position.

Washington needs an information apparatus that can communicate in a 24-hour news cycle. Better information to international audiences will help clarify our policies and amplify our voice.

The White House Office of Global Communications can be an important tool in combating international anti-Americanism and terror.

Charles H. Dolan

Vice Chairman

U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy


Mr. Dolan is a senior VP at Omnicom Group's Ketchum Public Relations, Washington.


* In "The Buzz" (Feb. 10, P. 27), Ladies' Home Journal Creative Director Scott Yardley was incorrectly identified as Patrick Yardley.

Most Popular
In this article: