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Agencies and consulting

Congratulations on publishing Sam Hill's Forum piece, "No synergy" (AA, Oct. 22) re: advertising agencies, consultants ... [as] apples and oranges.

As the management consultants specializing in marketing communications issues for major marketers, Morgan Anderson Con-sulting sits smack in the middle of the relationship between a client's strategy management consultants and its marketing services agencies.

Sam is spot on. He could also have added the following given more space:

First, another difference is that management consultants occupy the strategy space and agencies occupy the creative execution space; and

Second, management consultants consistently focus on defining the client's "price/value" equation, whereas agencies focus on moving the client's creative "ideas" envelope. In both examples, the twain do not meet.

Notwithstanding both are business service providers, agencies are unlikely to buy management consulting firms, and management consulting firms are unlikely to buy agencies. However, other major industries (entertainment and media, for example) are likely to buy or take over agency holding companies. There are synergies, and they can do something with them.

Arthur A. Anderson

Managing Principal

Morgan Anderson Consulting

New York

I am writing in support of Sam Hill's Forum article. Having done the dance with ad agencies as a consultant and [as a] potential seller of my company, CoKnowledge, to several large agencies, let me add two supporting points on why consulting and advertising agencies won't work.

First, ad agencies have not decided what business they are in. Until they do, like all businesses, they put themselves at a competitive disadvantage. "If you don't know where you are going, every road leads there" (from "Alice in Wonderland").

Second, when an agency does buy a consulting company, they do it as a buyout-in essence buying the company with their own money. There are two reasons this is a bad idea. From the agency side, they are most likely buying a company where the equity partners want to exit. From the selling company side, it is all about the buyout and not about building a practice or servicing the needs of the client. It is a classic lose-lose.

Peter J. Flatow

Innovations Coach


Fairfield, Conn.

CMR on monitoring

The article "Monitoring ads in real time" (AA, Oct. 15) outlined various media research companies and their systems for monitoring TV advertising. At one point, it mentions that Taylor Nelson Sofres' CMR does monitoring by hand. While this statement is true with respect to some print tracking, we would like to clarify that CMR predominantly relies upon the electronic monitoring of advertising through its MediaWatch recognition technology. Also, CMR performs real-time monitoring of advertising through its Broadcast Verification Service (BVS). CMR has been at the leading edge of electronic monitoring since the mid-1980s.

Donna Berwick

Marketing Director

Taylor Nelson Sofres' CMR

New York

No snap judgements

From American Movie Classics' perspective as a network striving to provide shell-shocked viewers with an engaging and relevant entertainment option, we wanted to reinforce some of the points made in Scott Donaton's column "Forget sounding death knell for irony; it's too soon to tell" (Viewpoint, AA, Oct. 1). We, too, would strongly caution against drawing any premature conclusions about the role that popular culture will play in our society going forward.

We view movies as valuable cultural snapshots that offer both comfort and insight into how Americans have dealt with trauma and tragedy over the years. ... It seems natural that we will seek comfort from drawing new boundaries given our collective sense of vulnerability and heightened sensitivity to the roles we play in these uncertain times. The world doesn't feel like a very safe place anymore, and wouldn't it be nice to have a new set of parameters in which to do our jobs?

But it's just too soon. The recovery process isn't going to be easy or swift, and we can't hurry it along. If we at AMC have learned any one thing from movie history, it's that, while the tone of the movies may have changed with the times, one thing is constant: During troubled times, Americans want to escape and entertainment offers relaxation.

We urge everyone in the media to take a deep breath and hold off on making any snap judgments about consumer behavior.

Kate McEnroe


American Movie Classics

Jericho, N.Y.


* In "Sony pulling a 1-2 punch" (Oct. 29, P. 4), the San Francisco office of TBWA/Chiat/Day handles Sony PlayStation, not the Playa del Rey, Calif., office, as reported.

* In the "Marketing 1000" profile on Mike Kupstas of Panera Bread/St. Louis Bread Co. (Oct. 8, P. S-27), Au Bon Pain bought St. Louis Bread Co. in 1993, not 1999 as reported.

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