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Will meet challenge

The advertising agency industry joins the rest of America in mourning those who lost their lives in last week's tragic events and in expressing our deepest sympathies and prayers to those whose loved ones perished or remain missing.

The occasion serves to remind us of another time of crisis in America that occurred almost 50 years ago, when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. Within days of the attack, the advertising, marketing and media industries joined together to create what was then known as the War Advertising Council, the precursor of today's Advertising Council.

The Council was purely voluntary, marshaling the skills of hundreds of ad executives nationwide and paying its own way through industry contributions-much the same way today's Council operates. The War Ad Council worked closely with government agencies in the development of almost 100 home-front advertising campaigns: for war bonds, armed-services recruitment, food, soldiers' mail and a variety of other war-related efforts.

The industry was widely praised by President Franklin Roosevelt for its ability to boost morale and achieve effective results, and in its first year was credited with arranging $250 million in donated ad time-an astronomical sum for that time, especially considering that this was the pre-TV era.

I have no doubt that today's professionals are up to the task of equaling the valiant efforts of their predecessors in meeting the historical challenges we now face.

O. Burtch Drake


American Association of Advertising Agencies

New York

Ready to assist

As Americans and members of an association with many colleagues located in New York, and with our home base in Washington, D.C., we find every thought focused on our friends, families and colleagues.

As a unified and concerned industry, we join our fellow trade associations in sending our heartfelt sympathies to those directly affected by these horrific acts of terrorism. It is truly a most challenging time for our nation. However, we will come back unified in strength and in sadness.

These tragic acts cannot hold down our people or the economic well-being of our nation. Recovery will begin with businesses and individuals across the country donating supplies, food, funds and numerous means of assistance. The people of our nation-with their resolve, pride and resilience-will guarantee the rebuilding of our nation and the economy.

Our industry will do its part to assist our country in need, both on a human level and by promoting the ongoing vitality of our economy. Agencies, advertisers, colleges and media companies are using their resources to help direct Americans to charitable organizations such as blood-donation centers. And at a time when cellphones and regular means of communication were overtaxed, the media and their reporters did much to preserve our country through a critical moment in our history.

The strength and talent of those in the advertising industry are needed now more than ever. Profoundly saddened by these recent tragedies, we vow to commit all of our resources to assisting those in need.

David A. Park Chairman American Advertising Federation CEO DDB Group/Los Angeles

Wallace S. Snyder President-CEO American Advertising Federation Washington

DTC needs PR effort

I share your concern that the congressional actions now being considered could ill advisedly restrict the direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertising of pharmaceuticals ("No Rx cure," Viewpoint, AA, Sept. 3).

As your earlier reports ("Congress studies DTC rise," June 18, and "Congress eyes DTC ad threat," Aug. 27) clearly show, DTC advertising, for all its near ubiquity, is still a vulnerable concept. Based on our own investigation for Morpace Pharma Group ("Direct to Consumer Advertising: Changing the Face of Pharmaceutical Marketing"), managed care formulary managers detest DTC, physician support remains weak, and the vast majority of consumers aren't yet convinced of its merits. The time is ripe for an industrywide communications initiative to cogently explain DTC to the American public and help them understand its value.

More than a decade ago (while at Arthur D. Little), I had recommended a similar public relations campaign to the HMO industry. If that advice had been accepted, today's attitude and policy environment surrounding managed care would be much different. Managed care has always had a positive story to tell, but it didn't begin telling it soon enough.

Now is the time to begin telling the story of DTC advertising. As the Food & Drug Administration itself recognizes, the intent of DTC advertising is to provide new information that will help consumers recognize untreated medical conditions and encourage them to seek appropriate treatment.

The industry needs to get that story out and show the American people that DTC advertising promotes better health care and better health.

A. James Lee


Lee Analytics

Lowell, Mass.

Consider HDTV's impact

Has the advertising industry really thought about how the switch to high definition TV might affect it?

Today, the model is TV everywhere. While Dad watches "Monday Night Football" on the big set, Mom watches "Ally McBeal" elsewhere. The teens each have their own sets and can watch shows geared to their interests. Even the preschoolers have their own targeted cable shows.

Now imagine the world of 2006. Most families will buy one HDTV set, perhaps grumbling, "Why should I buy this expensive new hardware. The shows aren't any better." Bill Gates has already bought one for each room in his mansion. Will Joe Sixpack spend a year's salary buying HDTVs for his wife and kids? How about replacements for the TV set in the workshop, the boat, the cabin, the RV? Is it worth buying a new set for each location?

If the broadcast industry wants to continue to deliver advertising to couch potatoes, it will have to supply them with a reasonably priced way to access HDTV signals on existing hardware.

I suggest a little black box that will sit between either the antenna or cable or satellite HDTV signal and convert it to the analog input, which drives today's sets. This box should cost no more than $20, and might even be a premium from advertisers who want to continue reaching eyeballs. Send in five box tops and $20 and receive in the mail this marvelous converter. Or buy our $50 converter and get an instant rebate of $30 in only eight weeks if you send us the UPC symbol and a dated receipt.

Alternatively, convince Congress the whole idea of HDTV is silly. The advertising industry needs HDTV like hi-fi needed quadrophonic sound.

Frank Weigert

Wilmington, Del.


* In "The Cutting Edge" (Sept. 3, P. 13), Brett Gow left his former post at WPP Group's Impiric (now Wunderman). He was not laid off from that post.

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