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Contributing to failure

Randall Rothenberg's condolences to Life and Details ("Blame fall of `Life' and `Details' on failure to make bold changes," Viewpoint, AA, March 27) don't mention business practices that undercut editorial strategy.

Life, for example, was often sold by an on-again-off-again sales force pitching all Time Inc. magazines rather than celebrating Life's unique franchise.

Only institutional memory loss could lead to Rothenberg's contention that Time Inc. was incapable of missteps in recent years. These are the Time executives who thought they were taking over Warner. Remember Pathfinder? And wasn't there a TV listings magazine?

Details, after many makeovers but no name changes, is like "crab salad" at a New York diner. Of course it's not crab. That's just what it's called.

John Polich

New York

Editor's note: Mr. Polich is an independent media consultant.

Willes misread

Re: Scott Donaton's column "Willes shook up newspapering but misread its key brand value" (Viewpoint, AA, March 20).

Ad Age is misreading Mark Willes' visionary attempt to merge the best of the Los Angeles Times' assets in order to create a more powerful product. Editorial sections which carry advertising exist across the industry and, quite simply, advertorial resources can't cut it in most circumstances. If you want the best writing, you bring in [the] News [department].

You are not asking them to slant their reporting in favor of a theme; instead you are collaborating with them to make the product the best it can be.

Staples Center shared advertising revenue. They never laid claim to the news content of Times writers.

Ad Age also has failed to point out that newspapers have been known to sell their front pages to advertisers in the form of box or strip ads. Why hasn't it attacked this issue?

I am a fifth generation member of a newspaper publishing family and frankly see the value in doing what Mark Willes and the Times did. There is a line, but those lines can be merged, not crossed, in favor of being the best you can possibly be in this extremely competitive and diverse business environment.

Michael P. Jensen



Tacoma, Wash.

What e-tailers need

Pierre Passavant is 100% correct when he writes that e-tailers not only will do well to study up on branding but on direct marketing as well ("E-tailers need DM skills," Letters to the Editor, AA, Jan. 17).

He should have gone further. Not only e-tail sites, but every commercial presence on the Web -- content, banners, etc. -- would do well to integrate the practices of branding and direct marketing into their communications efforts.

The Web is the only medium I know of that can seamlessly accommodate a response mechanism within a branding message, and parcel brand equity with a message designed to elicit a response. Yet rarely do you see evidence of this convergence of what heretofore have been regarded as disparate disciplines. In fact, it's not all that often that you see evidence of direct marketing or branding techniques separately applied in online communications.

Steven DiManni

VP-Creative Director

Hakuhodo Advertising

New York


* In "Burnett wins McDonald's co-op work" (Late News, April 3, P. 2), Moroch & Associates, Dallas, won the McDonald's Corp. co-op account in Michigan that includes Detroit and Grand Rapids, not Leo Burnett USA, as reported. Burnett parent Leo Group owns a minority stake in Moroch.

* In "Focus suit links woes to merger talks" (March 27, P. 6), the acquisition talks cited by Focus Media in its countersuit against Sears, Roebuck & Co. did not involve WPP Group.

* In "Mercedes brings rivals on road trip" (March 20, P. 46), the New York office of Rapp Collins Worldwide handled the direct mail and list work; e-mail invitations were developed by Critical Mass, Calgary, Alberta, a partner with RappDigital.

* In "Selling the fantasy of celebrity chic" (March 20, P. S18), H&S Media's promotional allowance to retail chains was misstated. The magazine publisher offers 12% instead of the usual 10%

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