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Gap agencies share blame

And [agencies] wonder why ours are the first budgets cut in a downturn? We work for our cli-ents and, when the business doesn't perform, it's not our fault. When it succeeds, it's because of our work. Bull! That Gap's 25% same-store sales slide coincides with its current ad direction (and execution) should not be written off so easily ("The goods on the Gap," Viewpoint, AA, Dec. 17). If the work isn't driving people to the store motivated to purchase, what's it doing?

If there is a misalignment between the brand experience Gap is delivering at the store level (the combination of products, service and merchandising) and the advertising, that's as much the agency's responsibility as the client's. We're supposed to have the challenging discussions and help clients make the hard decisions around these issues. To absolve oneself of these connections between business, marketing, advertising and executional strategy is irresponsible.

Taking responsibility for our clients' results is crucial to proving our value as strategic partners.

Ken Dec


CGN Marketing & Creative Services


Testimonial advice

No advertiser needs to risk being an "FTC target." ("FTC target," Viewpoint, AA, Dec. 17). The ad industry's self-regulatory system was created for the very purpose of minimizing government involvement in the ad business.

The National Advertising Review Council's National Advertis-ing Division archives contain hundreds of decisions on cases involving advertisements that feature testimonials, experts or endorsements. These can provide guidance [and] help advertisers and agencies avoid regulatory challenges as they pursue claims development and substantiation.

Voluntary compliance is the cornerstone of our highly successful system. Compliance and the desire for advertisers to maintain a level playing field through competitive challenges should make government scrutiny unnecessary to maintain consumer confidence.

The National Advertising Divi-sion forum is highly valued by national advertisers as an inexpensive forum that issues prompt, well-reasoned decisions. And it certainly beats the alternatives-regulation by the government or the courts. Testimonials are just one of the many issues in the archive of almost 4,000 cases that have been handled by NAD.

It is important that advertisers use this forum and that the advertising industry preserve this forum by financially supporting it.

Jim Guthrie


National Advertising

Review Council

New York

Advertising and cynicism

Re: "The new relevance" (Ad-ages, AA, Nov. 26): I disagree with its take on the history of advertising and cynicism ("The creative revolution in advertising during the `60s was all about advertising that mocked advertising ...").

By and large, the creative revolution of the `60s met consumer cynicism not by mocking previous advertising but through a fresh respect for consumer intelligence. It focused on the consumer, not on itself. This "cynicism" that Adages refers to as "the lingua franca ... until now" is, on the other hand, advertiser (not consumer) cynicism, which I submit blossomed in the `90s.

My view is that, coming off the `80s, young creatives became increasingly indulgent and self-referential, motivated by the awards game and sponsored by flush clients. That's a different sort of cynicism, one that ignores the consumer or, more immediately, the agency's client.

Kenneth Anderson

Creative Director

Terry Hines & Associates

Burbank, Calif.

Give Studebaker credit

Let me begin by professing myself Bob Garfield's greatest fan. Honestly. Let me follow by suggesting he leave automotive meta-phors to others. My current point is his statement that Studebaker "succeeded while never even approaching excellence" ("McKin-ney's Audi A4 effort is a major league mediocrity," Ad Review, AA, Dec. 17). While no one would argue that, overall, Studebaker was a mediocre car company, there was one shining moment of automotive excellence: the '63 Avanti, created by design giant Raymond Loewy.

Bruce Kaplan

Sales Development Manager

Twist, J-14 and M

New York


* In the editorial "FTC target" (Dec. 17, P.10), the last line of text was omitted. The final sentence should have read, "Nor does hedging by saying the endorser's experience is `not typical' ease the likelihood that some consumers might be misled."

* In "Life in a normal town" (Nov. 26, P. 16), the proprietor and name of a coffee shop were mis-identified. The proprietor is Tim Wall; the shop is called Tim the Coffee Man. Misplaced punctuation made the phrase "they're not seeing the whole picture" appear to be spoken directly by Mr. Wall. It is a paraphrase of what he said.

* In "Cash is scarce: Ziff Davis filing" (Nov. 26, P. 33), Ziff Davis Chairman-CEO Bob Callahan was misidentified as Bill Callahan.

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