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The Bear Necessities
There's the beginning of a big idea in your news story "Stocks Rattle, Ads Roll" [Adweek, Sept. 7], which reports on how financial services companies are ready to reassure their investors when the stock market takes a dive. Sometime soon that dive will go deeper and stay down longer, and all marketers and their agencies will find themselves between the proverbial rock and a hard place--defend the long-term customer value of brand-name equity, or give into the pressure for boosting short-term stockholder value?
The last time the market took a deep, long dive, too many marketers chose the latter. They scrambled to see who could be fastest to give away the store. Budgets for long-term brand building were cut, or shifted to short-term, reactive, price-based fixes. Some brands and companies have yet to recover.
The marketing of brand equity is not just a luxury to be indulged in only during long, strong bull markets. That's because, just like stockholders, customers require reassurance in hard times. Unfortunately, too many corporate marketing departments don't seem to look any further than next quarter's numbers. They should be proactively planning for a bear market, before they have their "plan" imposed on them by the people down the hall in the corporate finance department.
Alan Maites
President
Robinson & Maites, Chicago

Same as It Ever Was?
Your article "Too Close for Comfort?" [Adweek, Aug. 24] caught my attention. In it, you cite comparisons among Mitsubishi, Volkswagen and BMW advertising campaigns.
Looking through old magazines for another project, I came across an ad for Pierce-Arrow automobiles in a 1933 issue of Time. The headline, "The only sound one can hear in the new Pierce-Arrows is the ticking of the electric clock," ran 18 words.
In David Ogilvy's book, Confessions of an Advertising Man (1984), he writes (on pages 106-107): "The best headline I ever wrote contained 18 words: 'At sixty miles an hour, the loudest noise in the new Rolls-Royce comes from the electric clock.' "
Same category (autos). Same segment (super premium). Same creative message (the car is so quiet, all you can hear is the ticking of the clock). Same word count (18). One written in 1933, the other about 25 years later.
What do you think?
Richard M. Lei
Associate professor
Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, Ariz.

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