Art & Commerce: Radio Redux: Ads Need

More Effort and Creativity
Matthew Feinberg makes some interesting points in his
commentary on radio consolidation, titled “Radio Waves” [Art & Commerce, Jan. 17].
As a 20-plus-year recovering radio rep, as well as a current partner in a national radio creative shop, I can relate to both sides of the issue. I don’t think anyone knows yet whether the fallout from consolidation will benefit minority groups who might not otherwise have had a chance to get into ownership, or if the net result will be an industry totally controlled by two players (Infinity and Clear Channel).
Feinberg points out, however, that “there’s never been a study showing that the average radiophile loves to listen to five-minute commercial pods.” Actually, a spot load study was released in June 1999. Completed by Edison Media Research and Arbitron, it can be found at spotloadsum.htm.
One of the findings indicates that people are bothered as much by annoying commercials as they are by the number of commercials. If the reality is that there are going to be more commercials on the radio (and there are), then we need, as an industry, to put the same effort and creativity into radio commercials as we do TV and print ads. Regardless, it is
an interesting study and I would encourage your readers to checkit out.
John Brejot
Director of sales and marketing
Radio Works

For Art’s Sake, the Importance Of Being Able to Draw
Bravo for Rick Boyko [Adweek 2000, Dec. 13]. His belief in the relevance of a classically trained art director is a refreshing perspective.
As an art director who really can draw, I seem to be in a market where the agencies are looking for computer whiz kids–not seasoned, conceptual art directors.
I know all the programs, but the computer age has made us all typesetters, a skill at which I will never be proficient. At least I know the computer and the marketable
programs. But there are others who don’t know the first thing about Quark or Photoshop, and, sadly, they are referred to as “dinosaurs.”
Susan Moore
Art director
Es Em Design
Reno, Nev.

When the Last Link Surrenders to Technology
In response to Debra Goldman’s Consumer Republic [Art & Commerce, Jan. 31], the reason high-tech wizardry is unstoppable has little to do with advertising. It has more to do with people who let themselves be defined by their gadgets, rather than their values.
The generation that walks around with its telecommunications gear stuck to an ear is in no way different from the generation that fell for enormous fins on its cars more than 40 years ago. In an inverse way, size still counts.
As ad folk, we are the last link in delivering the goods, though it seems that too much of our consumer republic depends on this misbegotten sense of self-worth. And way too many ads prey on that.
So ultimately, we do have the choice. Descartes had it backwards: I am, therefore I must think.
Tom Cammarata
Principal, creative director
Coyote Hill Advertising
Middletown, Calif.

Account Planning: Get Inside The Mind of the Consumer
Nick Carpathia’s letter is right for all the wrong reasons [Letters, Dec. 6]. Account planning fails to deliver quantifiable and qualifiable results because all it really gives us is more of the same old, same old. But this is because account
planners keep looking for rational and logical answers to questions when the subject matter is actually
emotional and affective. Getting consumers to come up with more emotional and “real reasons” requires gaining access to different structures in the brain.
Traditional research takes the rationalizations, justifications, excuses and explanations that consumers typically give in focus groups and other contemporary methodologies and presents them as insights. But from the client’s point of view, there is usually nothing new or startling about these findings. As Carpathia
stated, “It was a reworking of old variations of the three worn-out themes.” Clients and potential clients are firmly convinced that ad agencies don’t understand their businesses, and while traditional account planning offers a significant step in the right direction, it’s traveling down the wrong road.
Over the past 25 years, we have looked at methods that go beyond, behind, around and above the traditional rationalizations and justifications that come from focus groups and questionnaires. The good news is, there’s a wealth of information in the unconscious mind, and the better news is that it can accessed and quantified. We are now actually measuring brand equity based on consumer motivations and emotions. In addition, clients now have a tool that allows them to measure the effectiveness of the work we do for them.
The key to obtaining information is in getting answers to the question: why? The reasons why account planning is just a “retooled version of yesterday’s research guy” is because planners never deal with the issue of why people do what they do. Getting this information is not difficult, but it does involve some different ways of asking some of the same questions and creative ways of asking some new ones. The same old methods and the same old questions will invariably yield
the same old information.
The fundamental issue for clients is that they want to know the agency “understands my business.” Real account-planning methodologies must go beyond traditional group sessions and questionnaires. The planner must actually get into the minds of the consumers–not just what they say but what they think. Surely, there are more than three simplistic themes to the art and science of effective persuasion.
Steven R. Puckett
Creative director
Richard C. Maddock, Ph.D.
The Brighton Agency
Clayton, Mo.