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The case for consulting

As part of an agency in the midst of developing a consulting capability, I read Sam Hill's Forum commentary ("No synergy," AA, Oct. 22) with great interest ... and more than a little alarm.

While he makes several worthwhile points, I wonder if he's missing the real reason agencies are-and in my opinion should be-developing consultancies.

Without question, agencies and consultants are apples and oranges. They offer different products, require different skill sets and foster different cultures.

But are these differences sufficient reason for agencies not to pursue this line of business? Sure, agencies may be motivated by enhanced profits and/or to defend our influence with clients against the incursion of outside consultancies. But the most compelling reason for offering consulting services is that clients need both.

More importantly, clients need linkage between the two.

Unfortunately, the brilliant analyses of management consultants often end up sitting on a shelf collecting dust. Conversely, agencies' work frequently is not as informed as it should be by such rigorous analysis. What clients desperately need is for the consultants' analysis to come to life in tangible ways in the marketplace. The company that can pull off that translation will provide powerful, unprecedented value to its clients.

So, yes, we're different, and, yes, it's difficult to put the two under the same roof. But in the best interest of our clients-and, in the long term, our industry-it will be well worth the effort.

Earl Cox

Senior VP-Partner

Director of Strategic Planning

The Martin Agency

Richmond, Va.

Direct mail safeguards

"Direct hit after anthrax threat" (AA, Oct. 22) cast a dark cloud over the short-term fate of direct mail in light of the recent anthrax threat.

It should be noted that some leading direct marketers already have comprehensive mail production and processing security procedures in place to protect and reassure our clients, their customers and our own employees.

Under current conditions, clients and consumers need to be aware that the leading mail and fulfillment facilities are in fact secure buildings with around-the-clock security patrol on the floor. No one gets in without card access and no unknown or unexpected deliveries from the outside are accepted.

Direct mail must be professionally produced in a secure environment with accountability and be traceable throughout the entire process of development and delivery channels. Clients should insist on nothing less from their marketing partners.

While certain consumers may be uncomfortable with mail in the short term, most successful clients (and agencies) understand that direct mail is one aspect, albeit an important one, of the holistic marketing approach needed to reach today's consumers.

The winners are those that employ a media-neutral approach to an integrated marketing solution, and drive value through a range of interrelated and supporting initiatives encompassing a number of media channels, including direct mail, print and TV ads, interactive and e-mail marketing, tele-services, promotions and others.

Now more than ever it may be the time to deliver communications through multiple communication channels, providing our most important customers a choice in selecting the channels they are most comfortable with.

It's a challenging time, but marketers need to reassure clients and their customers that many procedures are in place on their behalf.

John F. Jastrem


Rapp Collins Worldwide


Who was desperate?

In his "Adages" column, writer Richard Linnett suggested that Mother Jones was "desperate" for taking an ad from BP, the international oil company (AA, Oct. 22).

Desperate? Mother Jones' advertising revenue is up 20% this year. Our paid circulation is up 11% in the past year-nearly 40% since 1998. In June, the American Society of Magazine Editors awarded us a 2001 National Magazine Award for General Excellence.

Mother Jones has had plenty to say about big oil. But we're not likely to say that they are fools. BP chose Mother Jones for its campaign because it wanted to reach a savvy, engaged audience in a book that would draw attention. Mother Jones delivers.

Linnett heard all of this in our interview. Seems like he was desperate-for a cheap dig.

Jay Harris

President and Publisher

Mother Jones

San Francisco


* In "Hershey to increase ad budgets for key brands" (Oct. 29, P. 1), Hershey Foods Corp. is putting all its $65 million in annual restructuring savings into sales/marketing activities, with half going to advertising. The story said half the savings would go into sales/marketing.

* In "Brand groups lead i-efforts for Unilever" (Oct. 29, P. 32), Unilever's North American Inter-active Brand Center will continue to operate and lead global interactive strategy, though centers in Europe and Asia have been closed. The story said the North American center was being dismantled. Inter-active strategy is now being aligned more closely to the agendas of the leading brands, a spokesman said.

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