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Disdain for innovation

I read with great amusement "Ad Nauseam" (AA, July 10), the cover story on the growing phenomenon popularly known as alternative media. I found it most interesting a publication whose rai- son d'etre is to explore ad trends and opportunities would feature a piece that exhibits such disdain for innovation. I can only assume it is one man's view of the world, not the opinion of Ad Age.

The irony wasn't lost on me either that the focal point for the piece was drawn from zealots whose living is made combating advertising: Stay Free! magazine, for one. And the "ugly" work (Yahoo!, e.g.) featured happens to be (note to the author) award winning advertising, as selected by creative directors in the ad business.

Let's see: Clever, eye catching, great looking imagery, popping up in unexpected places and stopping consumers in their tracks is a big no-no for brands looking to make their mark. Better to be subtle and low key, I guess. Better to fade into the background. Better, perhaps, for the brands that are embracing this brave new world, so much the better to be seen! But surely, we wouldn't want to incite a "social crisis" now, would we?

Outdoor is proud to be exactly what it is--pure, unadulterated advertising, whose sole purpose is to brand and leave a mark. Isn't that the business we are in?

Diane Cimine

Exec VP-Marketing, Outdoor Advertising

Association of America, New York

Don't change ABC rule

"Publishers and advertisers debate the definition of `paid' circulation" was the subhead of the June 5 Ad Age story "Battle brews over magazine rules." After reading the article I think a more appropriate headline and question might have been: "What is the publishing industry's definition of `flexibility'?"

Wishing to increase their "flexibility," the publishers' committee of the Audit Bureau of Circulations has asked that the fundamental rule governing what is and is not paid circulation (50% of basic subscription) be eliminated.

What new "flexibility" will this change in rules provide for publishers? Will it allow the "flexibility" to offer a wider variety of price points for subscription offers than currently possible? I don't think so. Would it provide greater "flexibility" to generate "newsstand" revenue than currently allowed? Not that, either. Would it provide the reader/subscriber more "flexibility"? No.

Eliminating the 50% rule would not give the publishers one iota of additional "flexibility" that is not already available to them now without any change in ABC rules. Publishers can simply reduce their "basic subscription" price.

It is difficult to understand the purpose or need for eliminating the 50% rule. Does it really make sense to have a high (and meaningless) "basic subscription" rate, while actually selling the product at totally unrelated and drastically lower prices? If so, we fail to see the purpose it would serve.

Bristol-Myers Squibb is and always has been a very strong supporter of both magazines and the ABC. We understand and appreciate that the marketplace is constantly evolving and that as marketers we must continually adapt to the current challenges. The magazine industry has weathered more than its fair share of challenges in the past and we are confident that it will continue to not only prevail but thrive in the future (we continue to "bet" a lot of our advertising dollars on that) . . .

Why not simply reduce the basic subscription cost and leave the 50% rule intact? Why create yet another set of new clauses, exceptions and explanations whose only purpose will be to be reported back to us buyers as "clauses, exceptions and explanations" on a still more cumbersome ABC statement? We therefore strongly urge the magazine publishers committee of the ABC to reconsider its proposal and, if necessary, for the ABC board of directors to reject it.

Leo Hofmann

Senior Manager

Global Marketing Services Group

Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.

New York


* In "Brady's Bunch" (July 10, P. 34), Terry Snow was misidentified as the new publisher of Saveur. Mr. Snow is CEO of Saveur's owner, World Publications. The new publisher of Saveur is Gregg Hano, formerly associate publisher of Popular Mechanics.

* In "How Microsoft landed in .NET" (Adages, July 3, P. 8), the name of PR agency Waggener Edstrom was misspelled.

* In "Colgate's Martinez adds products to U.S. market" (June 19, P. 44), Siboney USA, New York, handles Colgate's U.S. Hispanic marketing, not Siboney, Miami.

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