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CRM and its critics

While I chuckled at [Direct Marketing Association President] H. Robert Wientzen's comparison of CRM to high school sex in "CRM: Shooting holes in the hype" (AA, April 16), the president of the DMA, and all Ad Age readers, should recall what happens after high school and apply that to what will happen in the near future with respect to CRM.

Even Mr. Wientzen would have to admit that our collective clumsy attempts at sex during high school evolved into more experienced passion plays. Similarly, those companies that are not doing CRM very well now will learn from their fumblings and begin to realize the benefits of properly implementing CRM vs. the risks of ignoring it.

The CRM critics in your cover story, most notably Lester Wun-derman, are scoffing at progress and clinging to the past, a past they claim has always used CRM practices when in fact the technology to enable CRM has only come into being recently.

His statement (that "one does not market to one. We market to groups") should be amended to "One should not mass market to one." Today, companies through CRM are honing their marketing efforts to one-on-one levels. CRM software enables this, which at least Mr. Wientzen concedes. Mr. Wunderman also dismisses the ongoing dialogue CRM systems create between companies and customers-a dialogue that knows where the last conversation left off, rather than a mass-marketing blitz that guesses dumbly about the preferences of unidentified customers. It's troubling that such leading names in marketing are not assuming the leadership in CRM. Technology is the engine, but marketers must be the drivers.

It's interesting that the naysayers in the story were mostly agency and marketing-organization heads, while the sources that spoke highly of the already achieved benefits of CRM were from the client side: Daimler-Chrysler and American Airlines. These critics are guilty of doing exactly what CRM seeks to fix-not listening to customers or potential customers, particularly those that are CRM converts. Taking potshots at CRM in its nascent period may make for funny sound bites today, but we will soon see which agencies and clients have the last laugh tomorrow.

Mark Devaney

Director of Public Relations

Grafica.eCRM Corp.

Chester, N.J.

Editor's note: For more on the CRM debate, see Forum on P. 20.

A wasted legacy

When the American Legacy Foundation spent 3% of its annual budget on a single minute of Super Bowl advertising, I had to wonder what they were smoking. For this foundation, such expenditures are simply self-indulgent, wasteful and lazy. Self congratulations in Advertising Age ("Big Tobacco's broken vows," Forum, AA, Feb. 5) are pure arrogance.

By relying so heavily on TV, Legacy is not investing in the things that youth really care about as a means to change our culture: their favorite sports or fashions or musical groups. The tobacco industry understands the value of such sponsorships perfectly. Do you want to see the ultimate in brand loyalty, from almost every category of product available? Go to a Nascar Winston Cup race.

Some of Legacy's TV spots are just plain bad. Exploding pop cans and basketball shoes didn't convince a single kid not to smoke. More galling was a spot where a "truth warrior" answered a chat-room question from someone who called herself "420agirl". "420" is a universal euphemism for marijuana smoking! Nice work, Legacy, real hip.

Legacy's CEO, Dr. Cheryl Healton, claims they are living up to the terms of the settlement [negotiated with state attorneys general] while the tobacco industry violates those terms. It's not like me to stand up for the industry, but in fact exactly the opposite is true.

Legacy vilifies the industry every day, against the settlement terms. As Bob Garfield stated last year ("Telling the `Truth' can make lots of money go up in smoke," Ad Review, Feb. 21, 2000), violating the settlement so openly makes a mockery of the campaign's theme, which is "truth." ...

The industry agreed to the creation of Legacy, and it is funded by the increased price of cigarettes. The industry views this as an investment, and Legacy will ultimately be used by the tobacco industry for its own purposes. How is Legacy to deliver a message about manipulation when they themselves are being manipulated? How do they expect to beat Big Tobacco at its own game when they are just a pawn on the industry's worldwide chessboard?

It took over a century for the tobacco industry to create the global culture of cigarette smoking. It will take two centuries to undo the damage. Apparently, the American Legacy Foundation believes it can do the job in a $5 million New York minute.

Bill Penny


Racing for Tobacco-Free Kids

Beaverton, Ore.

Editor's note: Mr. Penny is a race-car driver and motorsports marketing consultant


* In "Accounts won/lost" (April 23, P. 36), Grey Global Group's MediaCom, New York, was listed as a contender for the media buying account of Gateway, San Diego. MediaCom was not a contender for that account.

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