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Questions `ad bias'

Regarding the "study" by Kofi Ofori that spawned the Jan. 22 Ad Age headline "Urban media face ad bias, study shows": Enough already!

The subheadline said, "Minor-ity radio stations don't get fair share of buys". Does that mean "minority radio" has a right to some "fair share" of my client's money? I don't think so. When the NFL reverses the Super Bowl results because the Giants didn't get a "fair share" of points, talk to me. Maybe I'll reconsider.

According to the article, the study said buyers should check whether media are owned by minorities. That's a racist statement. I'm not a racist, nor, as far as I know, are any of my clients. I have no intention of checking to see if a station is owned by a minority. If the station's cost per customer is as good as the rest of the stations in the schedule, it stays on the buy. If it doesn't, it's bye buy.

According to the article, "ad groups and media buyers ... agreed with [the study's] conclusions that media buying isn't scientific enough." Here's a stunning revelation: Ratings are B.S. and demos, therefore, are irrelevant. Ratings are, at best, an element in the placement process; at worst, they are an excuse for a failed campaign (as in, "We delivered a zillion rating points; it's not our fault we're in the tank.")

Drearily, ratings "research" is most often just a lazy agency's cheap substitute for going to a market and understanding the station's place in the media mix.

The story quoted the study as saying, "According to some of the people interviewed, agencies tend to employ young white women to place buys-most of whom have had little exposure to racial/ethnic minorities throughout their life experiences." Agencies don't buy all the radio time. Most radio time is bought by guys like me. I was born and bred in Brooklyn, and spent most of my career in Manhattan. That's as urban as it gets.

According to the story, Mr. Ofori claimed buyers ignored the opportunity to sell products to twice as many consumers with incomes of $25,000 to $75,000, instead aiming at heavily white, slightly more upscale audiences at news-talk stations.

News-talk is simply a more efficient platform for commercials than music stations that play "more music with less annoying talk" (translated: fewer annoying commercials). Stop calling me a racist because I made a perfectly reasonable, and successful, business decision. I frequently buy time on news-talk stations, and I couldn't care less what color hand puts that picture of a deceased president down on the client's counter. Neither does the client.

The article quoted a Zenith Media executive who viewed the report as a "challenge to the buying community to promote racial diversity." I decline the challenge. That's not a job for my client.

Advertising is not a tool for social change. It exists to sell, and initiate, develop and protect the client's brand. If the client is doing something good, the advertising may slightly uplift the community. But maybe not. Nothing wrong with just selling dog food.

The story concluded by quoting Mr. Ofori as saying, "As long as the problem remains, the needs of people of color will not be observed." So how many people of color will not have their needs met because I don't advertise on black radio? I don't think the cause of better education will suffer for not hearing my commercial. I think the only people who will "suffer" if I don't buy time are the "black radio" station owners, who in many cases are white and often very rich.

Most radio advertising is so unbelievable and annoying that I think it sometimes produces a negative backlash instead of sales. That's a much bigger strategic problem than anything in this survey, which was commissioned by the National Black Media Coali-tion, which is supported by Syndi-cated Communications Venture Partners-not exactly a Martin Luther King-type charity.

More government regulation promoting "minorities" is a hide-ous idea. "Minority" radio has always won my business when it deserves it. When it produces results, it wins more of my business. When it doesn't, it loses. Like the Giants. And the damn Mets.

Dick Summer


Dick Summer Communications

West Chester, Pa.

Not a race issue

Your article "Urban media face ad bias, study shows" (AA, Jan. 22) really touched a very sensitive spot amongst minority business owners. For years our efforts have been overlooked or slighted by Fortune 500 companies and advertising agencies. My public relations firm, www.robertsmith.homepage.com, helps advertisers target their publicity efforts to minorities. Even though media bias exists, once advertisers and corporations benefit from seeing us successful we will have more advertisers who want to do business with us. It's not a race issue; it's a money issue.

Robert Smith Sr.


Rockford, Ill.

Anti-drug propaganda?

Regarding the article about Barry McCaffrey ("Outgoing drug czar says no to budget cuts," AA, Dec. 18), or at least the first six sentences thereof: McCaffrey lies with all the good-naturedness of a Goebbels.

Hey Barry, can you say


Tracy McLellan

Louisville, Ky.

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