One can’t help but empathize with Ed McCabe’s reply [Letters, March 9] to Debra Goldman’s column “Bad Ad-itude” [Consumer Republic, Jan. 26], especially with his spirited defense of “good advertising that rewards consumers for their interest and participation.” What dyed-in-the-wool adman wouldn’t get his batteries recharged by Ms. Goldman’s observation that, in fact, most consumers aren’t cynical about advertising? Unfortunately, not being a cynic is a far cry from being an enthusiast.
Legendary San Francisco adman Howard Gossage stated it best years ago: “People don’t read advertising. They read things they’re interested in, and sometimes that includes an ad.” But not often.
EVP, director of account planning
Mullen, Wenham, Mass.
In Brian Belefant’s response [Letters, March 9] to Debra Goldman’s “Bad Ad-itude” column, he writes that “The purpose of advertising is not to entertain, it is to compel.” I think what he meant to say was, “The purpose of advertising is not to entertain, it is to compel Brian Belefant.”
Why do I think this? Because, for support, he cites the age-old Mentos example. “I have yet to be convinced by the ads to buy the product,” he writes. “As advertising, I’d give them an F.” Mr. Belefant, like the countless other critics of the Mentos campaign, judges the work subjectively. He never bothered to check the sales needle.
For five years, I was marketing manager for Airheads candies at Van Melle USA–which happens to market Mentos. The now-infamous campaign launched in July 1992, and during calendar years 1993-1996, Mentos averaged roughly 30 percent annual sales growth (as did Airheads). Until another great brand, Altoids, came along, Mentos was the rate-of-sale leader among mint and hard-roll singles.
It would be wrong to imply that advertising was the only reason Mentos showed such impressive and sustained growth. For any great brand, advertising is just one of many brand-building tools. But how many current ad campaigns can you associate with a performance like Mentos’?
Let’s fight the urge to evaluate advertising based on aesthetics. The purpose of advertising is to motivate consumers to purchase. It follows, then, that the best ads are the ones that move the product the most over time.
Ninja Branding, Cincinnati
For Whom the Bell Tolls
The news of Wells BDDP closing its doors on May 13 is sad [Adweek, March 16]. I think that Wells Rich Greene, with its roster of blue-chip accounts, a great creative staff and professional personnel in every department, was one of the greatest agencies ever. A true legend.
Former Wells BDDP employee
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