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`Opt-out' would damage

commodity ad programs

Your editorial supporting a company's ability to "opt out from generic marketing programs if they want to grow brands instead" ("Raising brands," Viewpoint, AA, Dec. 11) misses the point. Generic and brand marketing are not mutually exclusive. The generic program is designed to raise all boats, while brand marketing is designed to increase share of market.

If a large majority of agricultural producers (at least two-thirds in the case of the egg industry) vote in favor of a generic program, but it is not funded by all, it is too easy for the freeloader to reap the benefits without paying the piper.

If a brand marketer opts out, he then can use that money to take a larger share of the bigger pie baked by his competitors. Those voluntarily paying for the generic program are then put at a competitive disadvantage, so they, too, eventually are forced to opt out and the program dies to the detriment of both.

It is a huge leap to suggest that an agricultural producer can grow his brand only at the expense of his industry's generic program. And it is ludicrous to believe it is anything more than a legal fiction for a producer to claim his First Amendment rights to free speech are being infringed because someone is saying good things about his product.

Louis B. Raffel

American Egg Board

Park Ridge, Ill.

ABM on postal rates

The story entitled "Low postal hike cheers titles" (AA, Nov. 20) gave one side of the story. Let me give another.

As president-CEO of American Business Media, we represent more than 1,200 magazines. David Strauss, ABM's postal counsel, was one of the lead attorneys litigating the [rate] case before the Postal Rate Commission on behalf of all magazines, both consumer and business-to-business.

Inflation is running around 3.4%. In our view, a 9.9% postal rate increase is beyond the pale.

We applaud Postmaster General William Henderson for delivering on his word: [an increase] of less than two digits (barely, at 9.9%); and we applaud [Postal Rate Commis-sion Chairman] Ed Gleiman for supporting our industry by keeping the raise under 10%.

Not stated in the article are the runaway labor costs that keep the postal rates escalating at a time of great automation on the part of the post office. ABM has seen little or no managerial effort on cost control by the Postal Service. Also not mentioned in the article is the upcoming rate case, which will hit in 2001-02 and go into effect in 2003. The Postmaster General is on record as saying the current case will be a minor skirmish compared to the upcoming case. PMG Henderson believes there will be a 24% increase going into effect in January 2003.

Gordon T. Hughes


American Business Media

New York

On target on branding

Rance Crain's recent comments about "the meaning of brand" ("If a logo steals the spotlight, how can the brand still shine?", Viewpoint, AA, Nov. 20) were refreshing and completely on target.

A brand is what the company represents and delivers to the consuming public, and in the best cases is also the embodiment of a company's culture, work processes and aspirations. Certainly, name recognition campaigns and clever ad slogans create excitement and awareness. But if those messages are inconsistent with company performance and value delivered, brand equity is systematically destroyed. As Mr. Crain well knows, too many marketers are allowing this to happen every day and most are completely oblivious to this expansive perspective of branding, or have no idea how to put it into practice.

For 25 years I have tried to promote his concept of branding in various packaged-goods, direct marketing and personal lines insurance positions, and I simply wanted to acknowledge the insightful comments he made in his View-point column.

Dennis E. Robich


Response Insurance

White Plains, N.Y.

Sibling magazines

As the only publisher of both GQ and Esquire, I found Randy Rothenberg`s column great ("GQ's `Men of the Year' shows brand transcends initial vision," View-point, AA; Dec. 4). Not only were we siblings, but both books were founded by Arnold Gingrich, though by the time GQ morphed out of Apparel Arts in 1958 he was only in charge of Esquire. Bernie Miller, the founding publisher of GQ, always insisted that someday it would surpass Esquire. I imagine he is smiling down on the current scene and reminding his buddy Jerry Jontry, who ran Esquire at the time, of his prediction.

David O'Brasky


Savannah, Ga.

Burzon's warm farewell

Congratulations on Jay Burzon's warm and witty farewell address ("Some lessons from `the coach"', Forum, AA, Oct. 2.). It was almost as much fun as Jay himself. My one complaint: Where's the picture? You've got to see the guy to really appreciate his wit.

Gerry Schoenfeld

President, Ideas Are Us

Red Hook, N.Y.

Editor's note: A photo of Mr. Burzon appears in "Photo Review" in the Dec. 11 Advertising Age.

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