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Re: "State Department effort asks the impossible of advertising" (AdReview, AA, Nov. 25). Bob Garfield is wrong in dismissing the idea of marketing America to the Islamic world as "propaganda" and concluding "this is no job for TV commercials." To start, the term "propaganda" is unfair. It is now commonly understood to involve false and misleading information. Our fundamental message of freedom and tolerance is true. It is also inherently compelling and powerful.

Beyond that, America has a need to market to foreign audiences. We need to make sure that our message is heard-particularly when our enemies are becoming effective in communicating lies and distortions. Diplomacy is no longer just a matter between governments. In a world of pervasive media, it has become essential that the United States market its diplomacy to overseas mass audiences.

Advertising has a role to play in a greater, long-term public diplomacy/marketing communications effort. That role may vary from grand emotional messaging to much more tactical information efforts. It may directly confront common attitudes and ideas or take a more subtle approach. Although its role will necessarily be subsidiary to public relations and other elements of the marketing mix, it should be substantial and ongoing. The State Department needs a larger marketing budget.

I'm advocating marketing, not propaganda. Propaganda is no substitute for smart policy. But smart policy is increasingly dependent on marketing to achieve its objectives. McCann-Erickson's motto, "The truth well told," should be the guiding vision of future public diplomacy.

Charles J. Skuba

Skuba Co.


Solve magazine woes with better selling

Re: "Are magazines ready to change?" (Viewpoint, AA, Nov. 4) and "Magazines confront flawed business plan" (AA, Oct. 28): Bunk!

Advertising is still the priority. How we sell advertising is all that needs to change. The days of bottomless marketing budgets and stacks of insertion orders on the fax machine are gone. Order taking is history. It's survival of the fittest. Market share is everything!

Call it "back to the future," but selling a magazine ad schedule has always been hard work. Publishers who have been around for more than five years need to remember that selling ad space is all about managing advertiser opinions of their magazines. To succeed, publishers need to get inside their advertisers' heads and steer what they (the advertisers) are thinking about their magazines and the competition.

As an industry, magazine publishers correctly focus tremendous attention on understanding their magazines' readers. But when it comes to advertisers and agencies, educated best guesses based on past sales performance and feedback from salespeople is the current method most often relied upon for ad sales and marketing decisions.

Today's complex, rapidly evolving and intensely competitive magazine ad market demands that publishers rethink their approach to managing their advertiser and agency perceptions (i.e., selling).

Changing the model isn't the answer. Changing how we sell is.

Ken Pearl


Advertiser Perceptions

Danville, Calif.

Look beyond rules for `open' companies

In her article "How to regain trust" (Viewpoint, AA, Oct. 7), Faith Popcorn [of New York marketing consultancy BrainReserve] brings up some interesting points. We've been thinking about some of the very same points but from a slightly different perspective.

We agree consumers seem to be situated in the blind spot of corporate vision today. We also agree with the behavioral guidelines, to which an "open company" would ascribe, that are set forth in her article. However, as professionals called upon by corporations to help build their brands, we believe we should push the concept of "open company" beyond a set of rules or standards.

We believe that corporations (and their brand-building partners) need not only to see-or otherwise recognize-consumers, but also to reorient themselves to consumers in fundamentally different ways. That said, we would like to offer a few simple guiding principles that may help corporations truly behave in an "open" way.

First, remember consumers are people. They are individuals with hopes, fears and concerns that guide them through everyday life. Speak to them as individuals about the things they care about, not as groups, classes or market segments. [They] demand to be treated with respect ... to be treated as intelligent, capable beings. Therefore, we should not speak down to consumers or spoon-feed them.

Above all, respect is not merely about communication but participation. People don't like being sold. They (we) don't like being pandered to. They (we) don't like being deceived, manipulated, insulted or controlled. If the focus is on dialogue and participation, corporations will more times than not be rewarded with consumer trust and confidence.

Establishing rules and standards defining an "open company" is a great start. Corporations must, however, follow through with a fundamental shift in the way they think about consumers in the first place if they are to fully "communicate their honesty and restore the confidence of their very shaky consumers."

Timothy Wild

Director of Brand Planning




* In "ADM tries consumer ads for weight control cooking oil" (Dec. 9, P. 4), Procter & Gamble Co. was incorrectly identified as the owner of the Crisco brand. P&G sold the brand to J.M. Smucker Co. last year.

* In "D'Arcy's Cadbury win goes to Publicis" (Dec. 2, P. 20), Havas' Euro RSCG was wrongly identified as the incumbent agency on Cadbury-Schweppes' Cadbury chocolates. TBWA Worldwide, London, and TBWA/Chiat/Day, New York, the incumbents, resigned the business this year after taking on new work from Mars.

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