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No sympathy for McD's

Boo-hoo to McDonald's ("McD's wrestles with marketing miscues," AA, May 20). You'd think they'd figure out it's the menu, silly. [McDonald's Exec VP Mats] Lederhausen's "three-tiered" strategy sounds like wishy-washy Wall Street talk. It's about the food, and everyone knows McDonald's menu is a major snooze. They're asleep at the Fryolator, unable to just scramble together new, intriguing and delicious combinations of fat and condiments to jolt bored customers.

Hold the "Chipotle," "self-serve kiosks" and "cashless payment systems"-type notions for now, please. How about a double order of simply re-inventing the burger/chicken items like Dave Thomas at Wendy's did? His promotional burgers had more attachments on them than a vacuum cleaner.

Can Mr. Lederhausen get the cheese council on the phone and ask what's new? Can Hormel cut the bacon extra thick and spray it with caramelized onion nuggets soaked in gin? Chili on the fries? Pile up those "new" ingredients and adjectives on our beloved bun and give your frantic ad agency something new to sell, sell, sell, I say.

Mitch Nash

Creative Director

Blue Q

Pittsfield, Mass.

Planners and creatives belong in same agency

I read with interest Erwin Ephron's stimulating and provocative "Planning's next step" (Forum, AA, May 13). He is right to emphasize the central role planning can play in the development of insightful and robust strategies. However, his comments do not reflect how planners integrate into the agency team and how they can contribute most effectively to creative brand and advertising solutions.

Creating advertising is not a relay race in which the account manager hands the baton to the planner who passes it to the creatives. The best work is a result of an ongoing dialogue, facilitated by ongoing and informal interaction between key team members. The planner may lead development of the strategy, but its value is zero unless it finds expression in an interesting creative idea. As a planner, I sometimes think it would be easier if we could just run the brief. (Indeed, some ads seem to do just that.) But I am not sure the consumer would be as excited by it as we are.

Key to this is the chemistry between planner and creative. Planners and creatives deal in the same currency: ideas. Embryonic ideas are often best nurtured within a strong personal relationship. A creative can make a planner's ideas stronger and vice versa. (The same could be said of the relationship between strategic planner and media planner. But the solution to this may instead be to reintegrate media planning back into the main creative agency.)

I also question Mr. Ephron's suggestion that planning be taken over by the client as it would again sever that planner/creative relationship. Clients are expert at brand management, but that does not necessarily make them expert at defining the role communications can play and distilling messages down to their essence in an inspirational way.

I would also dispute his point about creative assignments being inherently transient. My clients have been with the agency for 30 and 40 years respectively. The reason is the agency has consistently given them smart planning and great creative. It's a chicken and egg situation. If you believe creative agencies have an inherently limited tenure and so don't bother with planning, I suspect your belief will become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Jeremy Diamond

Senior Partner-Worldwide Group Planning Director

Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide

New York

Mr. Ephron argued the traditional home for account planning, the primary creative agency, "doesn't work as well as it once did," and that the media agency may "morph" into a new "account planning agency."

Ephron missed Pollitt vision for planning

While Erwin Ephron is correct to point out that Stanley Pollitt invented account planning at Boase Massimi Pollitt, his article ("Planning's next step," Forum, AA, May 13) ignores Pollitt's vision for the true planning philosophy. Pollitt bet the ranch on account planning. He asked his clients to wait for their new advertising campaigns while he restructured his agency around a new, untried discipline called account planning. It was rigorous and time-consuming, but in the end it would result in more effective communications, and a better return on the advertising investment.

Pollitt held the planners accountable for the effectiveness of the advertising-getting it right in the first place, and managing it over time to achieve measurable goals.

Brian Moore

Brian Moore Consulting

Long Beach, N.Y.

Ad Council and MADD

Thank you for Ad Age's wonderful tribute to the Ad Council (Special Report: The Ad Council at 60, AA, April 29). As it demonstrates, the Ad Council has had a tremendous impact on our society during the last 60 years, and is continuing its mission to affect positive change today. I am compelled, however, to clarify a point.

The article "Ad Council at 60-facing a crossroads" states, "Organizations the Council could not accommodate as too political or too limited in reach went their own way and ended up competing for donated media time and space, among them ... Mothers Against Drunk Driving ..." This is certainly not the case. In fact, the Ad Council and Mothers Against Drunk Driving will be partnering on a campaign to prevent underage drinking. We are delighted to be working with this wonderful non-profit to address what, sadly, is a critical problem in our society.

Heidi Arthur

Senior VP

Advertising Council

New York


* In "Sony shooting spots for new PS2 effort" (Late News, June 3, P. 2), the first spot in the series was wrongly described as shot in a rest room. It is shot in a rest home.

* In the table "Top 100" (May 27, P. 38), the headquarters city for No. 14 Zentropy Partners was incor-rectly listed as New York. It is Hollywood, Calif.

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