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Learning from Ayer

So sad, but not surprising, to see the passing of N.W. Ayer, one of the great brands in our business ("Bcom3 pulls plug on Ayer," AA, April 8). I am an Ayer alum who spent four happy years at the agency. Ayer had a unique culture, heritage and tradition. The boys from Philly were good to people, perhaps to a fault-even in the most difficult times, it never got nasty; no one ever lost respect or stopped supporting each other. (OK, so maybe my memories are a bit rose-colored.)

Many who worked there will remember, fondly in my case, the co-management philosophy that brought true collaboration from across the four agency disciplines. It was a planning shop before anyone coined the phrase. And it was all about the work at the end of the day, a creative philosophy that brought us some of the most famous campaigns in the history of our business.

What can we learn from Ayer's experience? I think the agency held too hard to its heritage and culture, became a bit too insular and failed to adapt to modern day realities. The lesson here is that an agency must nurture its culture but also translate those values into business strategy.

There will always be a warm spot in my heart for the place.

L. John Baker

Senior Partner

Worldwide Mgmt. Supervisor

Ogilvy & Mather

New York

What Bahamas `redoubt'? Adages was off target

An item in Richard Linnett's "Adages" column ("Saving Grace," AA, April 8) implies that the backer of Grace Magazine, Green Cay Asset Management, and I are based in a "redoubt" in the Bahamas as a means of avoiding taxes.

Nothing could be farther from the truth. I am a U.S. resident who pays taxes exactly like any other U.S. citizen, and Green Cay has an office in Florida. I lived and worked in the Bahamas long before I established Green Cay, and I decided to stay here because it is a good place to raise a family and a good place to run an investment organization. In fact, most hedge funds are registered outside the U.S., and the legendary investor, Sir John Templeton, also lives in the Bahamas and has managed his investments from here for many years.

Finally, our office in the Bahamas is hardly a "redoubt." The doors are not locked, there are no guards or security checkpoints and anyone can walk in off the street. My guess is that Mr. Linnett's office is much more of a redoubt than Green Cay's.

Jane Siebels

Chairman Chief Investment Officer

Green Cay Asset Management

Nassau, Bahamas

Editor's note: The column in no way intended to imply that either Green Cay or Ms. Siebels is avoiding taxes.

Critic misread results of Kaiser PSA study

Mark Dembo's Letter to the Editor ("Study underestimates station role in PSAs," Viewpoint, AA, April 1), regarding public service advertising is based on an erroneous reading of a recent Kaiser Family Foundation study.

The study reported on in Advertising Age ("Public service ads: Study tracks air time," AA, March 4) measured the amount of airtime donated to public service advertising on local TV stations and cable providers in seven markets across the country. Contrary to Mr. Dembo's understanding, the study counted both local and network-level broadcasts of PSAs. The study found 43% of all donated PSAs are run after midnight, and that an average of just five seconds an hour is donated to PSAs on the broadcast stations during prime time-out of more than 15 minutes of ads and promos.

Broadcasters and cable providers are making a modest amount of time available to PSAs, but there are many groups competing for this small slice of time. Non-profits are spending millions of dollars hiring "non-profit" ad agencies or communications firms to create and place their PSAs only to find that their messages never break through. Televised PSAs can still have a significant impact, but only if those sponsoring them have a clear strategy for getting substantial air time when people are actually watching.

Those with a vested interest in pretending there is more time donated to PSAs than is the case are doing a disservice to the causes they purport to serve.

Vicky Rideout

Vice President

Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation

Menlo Park, Calif.

Familiarity with horror

The Sept. 11 images may lose their impact for young people, as the JFK images have for Bob Garfield (and me) ("Familiarity-even with the horrific-can breed nostalgia," AdReview, AA, March 11). Not being adults, we couldn't appreciate the context of what was happening, only the immediacy.

My parents never could get over their gut reaction to the "Hindenburg" film. Living in central New Jersey, they had seen it and other Zeps overhead. I was young during Vietnam. Many images then but not much power to them today; instead, a dispassionate, almost analytical response. However, I still get an empty feeling looking at stills of the Challenger explosion. I was mature enough to not only feel but understand.

The planes flying into the towers will retain their power for the rest of our lives. Unfortunately, our children will find their own horrific images in time. And live with them.

Dick Austin

Middletown, N.J.


* In "People & Players"(April 8, P. 22), Olympic skeleton gold medalist Jim Shea was misidentified as speed skater John Shea.

* In "Rayovac plans new ads; Jordan role is unclear" (Late News, April 1, P. 2), WPP Group's Y&R Advertising, Chicago, was listed as Rayovac's agency. Y&R handles media; creative moved to Condon & Root, Barrington, Ill., last August.

* In "The goal of marketing"(April 1, P. 48), broadcast plans for World Cup games on U.S. Hispanic TV were incorrectly reported. Univision will air 56 of 64 World Cup matches live. Univision's second network, TeleFutura, will air the remaining eight games live and replays of 56 games. Univision's Galavision network will air 25 "Match of the Day" telecasts.

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