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Stop the `zap' ads

Before a heart attack ended my career in the TV newsroom, I attended various "sensitivity" seminars to raise the awareness of media people when it comes to ethnic and gender issues. It's time such programs be expanded to cover disability and issues related to health limitations.

This is insignificant for most of you. However, in publishing a newsletter (www.ZapLife.org) for people with implanted defibrillators, I'm getting notes from many of my 100,000-plus readers who are very upset by parodies on the use of defibrillators [that are] appearing in several commercials now running. For those of us who have been halfway through death's door and yanked back among the living by the shocking procedure, these zapping portrayals are traumatic.

When these spots revive memories of my own half-dozen brushes with death, I break out in a sweat. Some of my readers even report the defib scenes trigger dangerous stress-type arrhythmias! For us, there's no humor in these tragicomedies-only anxiety. In programs such as "ER" or "Gid-eon's Crossing," we know they are coming and can look away and cover our ears or leave the room. That's not the case when they suddenly appear in a commercial break. Advertisers can't waste a second to scream, "Clear!"

The offensive spots: TiVo, Discover Card, Quiznos Subs, jobs.com and Toshiba copiers. Please use whatever influence you have to get these off the air, and prevent the future use of defib scenarios to sell sandwiches, electronics, credit cards, dot-coms or anything else.

Ironically, during MSNBC's news with Brian Williams, the Toshiba copier commercial (begins with a close-up of zapping paddles) was preceded by an anchor tease VO of Nancy Marchand: "Up next-how producers of `The Sopranos' bring back an actress who died last year-to appear in one more scene." "ZAPpppppp" Shocking placement?

Jon Duffey


The Zapper

Tampa, Fla.

Cable `booming': CAB

I would like to take issue with the statement in "Cable ads took fourth-quarter hit" (AA, March 19) that "... cable's sputtering growth reflects a maturation of the cable universe." The story goes on to cite the number of cable networks, as well as our industry's penetration level, and concludes "... cable's room for expansion on both fronts is suspect."

I would like to make two points. The first is that two sources, Monitor Plus and the BCFM, do not indicate lower ad revenues for cable in the fourth quarter. My second point is that cable's audiences are booming, and ultimately revenue follows viewing. For example, through 23 weeks of the new season, ad-supported cable is up over 2 million homes during prime time. That is contradictory to the notion of "sputtering growth" regardless of how many cable networks currently exist, or how high cable penetration levels happen to be at present.

Jonathan Sims


Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau

New York

Tragic lack of controls

Re: "Texas tragedy" (AA, Feb. 26). Indeed it was a tragedy! A huge tragedy. While I am not surprised the embezzlement occurred, I am amazed at the size.

In our 29 years in business, we have installed many, many "advertising agency" accounting systems, which not only provided agency principals with monthly financial statements, but also with financial controls to prevent embezzlement. In most instances, our system replaced bookkeeping systems installed by the agency's outside accountants-systems that, I believe, were identical to the bookkeeping systems installed in all the clients handled by that outside accounting firm. And that is a big mistake.

An advertising agency is not a retail store, is not a restaurant, is not a parking garage, is not anything else but an advertising agency. As such, it needs to have an "advertising agency" accounting/financial system and controls installed by individuals who know the advertising agency business, not individuals who only know accounting. ...It's therefore imperative to have an "advertising agency" financial management system that automatically provides management with detailed monthly financial statements, as well as financial controls. Were this the case, there is no way "a scheming financial executive can take some money out," as investment banker Abe Jones was quoted as saying in your article.

Henry T. Dudek

Henry T. Dudek & Associates

Floral Park, N.Y.


* In "Ground Zero" (March 19, P. 1), Circle.com will combine with Havas Advertising's Euro RSCG Interaction shops under the Inter-action name. The story said the new entity was still unnamed. The combined Interaction shops had $152 million in revenue in 2000 and $140 million in 1999. The combined In-teraction revenue total does not include Circle.com revenue.

* In "Accounts in Play" (March 19, P. 38), the budget shown for the Mohegan Sun casino account is $20 million, not $50 million.

* In "Curtain call for Oldsmobile" (March 19, P. 48), the vehicle shown in the frame taken from the Oldsmobile Bravada commercial is a Jeep Grand Cherokee.

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