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Olds' fate overdue

Finally, General Motors management has decided to kill the Oldsmobile brand, the most overdue "brand execution" in marketing and manufacturing history ("Triage for GM's Olds," View-point, AA, Dec. 18). Now the billions GM invested trying to revitalize our fathers' Oldsmobile can go to creating more cars and companies like Saturn. Or so we can hope.

Why'd GM wait one generation too many to send the brand to the great car lot in the sky? Rampant optimism the repositioning would succeed? Or total failure to accept the inevitable? Probably both.

In all the years GM spent billions trying to resuscitate Oldsmobile, it would appear none of its well-paid marketing consultants or ad agencies ever gave GM the bold advice it needed most: "Stop making the damn things. Nobody really wants them. There's nothing we can do to change people's minds. Let's make something else, something better."

Gary L. Slack

Managing Director

Slack Barshinger & Partners


Don't blame Burnett

Regarding the death of Olds-mobile ("Rock blames Burnett," AA, Dec. 18): Leo Burnett USA should be awarded the Congres-sional Medal of Honor for keeping the brand alive beyond 1977, when The General bilked unsuspecting Olds customers with Chevrolet engines, tried to pass off a redecorated gasoline engine as a diesel, then diminished all future Olds-mobiles through "Chevy-ization."

Oldsmobile customers weren't stupid. They saw through the shell game of moving plastic logos from one Chevy to another.

And when Burnett demonstrated that the power of advertising could sell a cheapened product, The General interpreted that to mean, "You can fool all of the people ... one at a time."

As proof of General Motors' marketing absurdity, examine former General Manager John Rock's claim that Oldsmobile was redirected to be an import fighter. His bold attack plan against Toyota Camry offered consumers an Olds-mobile Intrigue, which is a rebadged Buick Regal, which is a rebadged Pontiac Grand Prix, which is a rebadged Chevrolet Lumina.

And Rock has the gall to blame Burnett for failure?

Sort of like criticizing an ad agency for failing to position Wonderbra as a breast implant.

Arnie Freeman

Sausalito, Calif.

S.F. creative `maturing'

In reading "Are tech clients kill-ing San Francisco creativity?" (AA, Nov. 13), which reported that the golden age of impactful creative advertising in San Francisco is over and the age of dry tech clients is here, it struck me creativity in San Francisco is not dying, it's maturing.

Today, the old-economy perspective that only TV creative can be truly great is being replaced. Today's digital, data-driven marketing reality demands that the arena for great creative encompass more than TV ads. It demands that creativity go beyond generating recall by touching rational and emotional hot buttons. It demands that creativity leverage data-driven relevance to stimulate trackable behavior of targeted market segments. This might not sound as sexy as creating killer :30 spots, but it is what today's businesses demand, and it may even be harder to do.

At Brann San Francisco, the fastest growing direct marketing agency in San Francisco, our talented new-economy creatives are flourishing in this fresh reality. We are not bemoaning the death of creative, but rather embracing the next epoch of San Francisco creativity, while reconsidering its very definition. We are pushing the venue for great creative beyond advertising to include traditional direct mail, e-mail marketing, DRTV, print and Web-based applications that go beyond conventional advertising to deliver bottom-line results.

We believe ... creativity will cease to be defined by TV advertising, and [that] the criteria for judging excellence will shift to target-ability, track-ability and scale-abil- ity. We also believe San Francisco will continue to be a Mecca for creative people and breakthrough solutions, even as the very definitions and drivers of creativity mature into something new.

TJ Scott

Exec VP-General Manager

Brann San Francisco

San Francisco


* In "Devil's Food," Dec. 18, P. 32), UniWorld Group, New York, created the Burger King Corp. radio spot criticized by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (Dec. 18, P. 34). The article misidentified the agency as Lowe Lintas & Partners Worldwide, New York.

* In " `The Grinch' gets creative with banner ad," (Dec. 11, P. 60), USA Today and American Honda Motor Co. teamed for the launch of the CR-V. The article misidentified the SUV as Toyota's RAV4.

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