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Real issue for megashops

The question friends in the agency world keep asking me is: "What does the Publicis takeover of Bcom3 mean for Grey?" ("The Final 4: Publicis makes cut," AA, March 11). My answer: "Not much, I think." The challenge Grey, Publicis-Bcom3 and every other agency faces is no longer about merging to achieve greater scale. It's about using the scale they already have.

Over the last two decades, most major industries have taken a fundamental look at how they operate and reengineered to improve efficiencies. Most agencies have done this in the back office, e.g., finance, but not in the big front-office processes: creative and account management. As a result, those functions are still overstaffed and inefficient. (Count the heads at any client meeting: two clients, one consultant and six from the agency.) That's the issue that every agency group must deal with.

Sam Hill


Helios Consulting


Independent undaunted by latest megadeal

I view the news of Bcom3 Group's French connection ("The Final 4: Publicis makes cut," AA, March 11), with mixed emotions. My oldest son works at Bcom3's Leo Burnett USA and perhaps new vistas will come his way. That's good. And our 16-year-old agency, one of the largest independents still standing, is a direct descendant of the original "big bang" merger (Omnicom). We've nothing against megamergers.

We've prudently entertained overtures but, in the end, would put flattery aside and agree rather blithely there was no real reason other than the monetarily obvious to alter our independent course. Fortunately, we've done just fine.

Just last week came our first dose of mega-reality. With one blow from another goliath (WPP Group), we lost two treasured accounts. British Petroleum (BP) recently bought ARCO gas and its AMPM minimarkets, both very compelling success stories for our agency. Then, to complete its agency globalization plan, as we were politely told, BP Chairman Sir John Browne handed the brands to Sir Martin Sorrell's Ogilvy & Mather, Los Angeles. Two knights beat two rooks every time. Undaunted, we turn for encouragement to Sir Winston Churchill, who observed "Solitary trees ... grow strong." We entrust our independent future to that promise.

Larry Postaer

Exec VP

Director-Creative Services

Rubin Postaer & Associates

Santa Monica, Calif.

Readers know why `U.S. News' exists

In "Magazine publishing houses run in damage control mode" (Special Report: AA, March 4) Ad Age printed an irresponsible comment that there is no reason for U.S. News to exist. Our 11.2 million readers would disagree. As would the 80,000 high school students and their teachers who request it each week. As would the 72% increased readership who read U.S. News after Sept. 11. (According to MRI, the highest increase of any of the newsweeklies or cable news channels.) Surely the 200-plus advertisers in U.S. News would strongly disagree. The vast majority of these advocates are not in a position to respond. But I am.

There is in today's media-saturated culture an increasing need for what U.S. News delivers: useful, actionable information combined with original agenda-setting reporting and investigative journalism. This includes looking at systems (government, health, financial security or educational systems), illuminating areas in which they are flawed and suggesting ways in which they may be fixed. ...

U.S. News affects readers' lives in a very personal way. We call it "news you can use." Hallmarks are "America's Best Colleges" and "Best Hospitals," now recognized as the premiere ranking platforms in the country, in addition to our personal finance "Annual Retirement Guide" and "College Sports Guide." Readership response demonstrates that these articles help readers make informed decisions that positively impact their day-to-day lives.

We are not about a two-page spread on Britney Spears. We are not about cover stories on Julia Roberts. We are not about promoting sister companies, their products and personalities. We are an independent voice, independently owned and managed and growing stronger. Our focus on original reporting and investigative journalism never had greater traction with a serious American audience.

Mortimer B. Zuckerman

Chairman and Editor-in-Chief

U.S. News & World Report

New York

Editor's note: The "there is no need for the magazine to exist" comment was made by a respondent to an Ad Age e-mail poll of magazine ad buyers and sellers. Respondents were guaranteed anonymity.


* In "Prices jump for scatter" (March 11, P. 1), Rino Scanzoni was incorrectly identified as exec VP-director of national broadcast for WPP Group's Mediaedge:CIA, New York. He is president, broadcast division, Mediaedge:CIA, New York.

* In "Mitsubishi keeps dancin' in Eclipse TV spot" (Late News, March 11, P. 1), it was reported Mitsubishi spent an estimated $63 million in measured media in the first 11 months of 2001. The $63 million referred to media spending for the Eclipse alone.

* In "Unintended results haunt AT&T Wireless, Taco Bell" (Feb. 25, P. 15) and "Whose mLife is it anyway?" (Feb. 11, P. 12), it was incorrectly reported that Metropolitan Life Insurance Co. had settled a federal lawsuit in which MetLife alleged the AT&T Wireless "mLife" ad campaign infringed on MetLife trademarks. The lawsuit remains pending in U.S. District Court in New York City.

* In "Shops pitch Goodyear for Dunlop tire account" (Late News, Feb. 18, P. 2), it was incorrectly reported that WPP Group's Y&R Advertising, New York, was a participant in a review for Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.'s Dunlop Tires. Y&R said none of its offices is participating in the review.

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