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Consumer-Focused Planners Are 'Dinosaurs'

I am writing in response to Tony Edwards' "Mind Over Matter: What today's account planners need to know" [A&C, Jan. 20].

To say account planners have evolved, or should evolve, into social scientists employed in the service of "understanding the consumer" is a disservice to the strides our discipline has made over the years. Planner as "voice of the consumer" is an anachronism that went the way of tracking eye movements over a page.

Planners don't "need to know" a lot about brain or evolutionary sciences, anthropology or archetypes. Planners "need to know" their client's business. They need to know, from the inside out, how a business makes money. Then, within that framework, they need to uncover what role various constituencies (distributors, buyers, Wall Street, and yes, consumers) play in garnering dollars.

Planners should be versed in the merits of different kinds of research, and they should be up on the latest thinking from a variety of sources, some of the ones mentioned by Edwards included. But to limit our role to using a "heuristic" approach to understanding the consumer is to limit our role to that of a dinosaur who lives in some ivory tower, one we hopefully have moved on from long ago.

Jeffrey Wolf

Partner,

Director of account planning

Deutsch

New York

Readers Bash

Radio Advertising

I enjoyed reading Martin Bihl's column "Out of Tune: Why is radio advertising so lousy?" [A&C, Jan. 6]. I've had the pleasure of writing radio spots that won local awards and some that generated angry responses for daring to be different (and a little obnoxious).

However, I've written plenty that I regret foisting on the public—because sometimes, clients just want 'em that way and they pay the bills. I can't stand how formulaic most radio commercials are, even for big brands, written by people who should know better. I've also noticed that clients love to focus in on the very words or audio techniques that can make a listener pause, think or laugh.

Dan Goldgeier

Freelance copywriter

Atlanta

After reading Bihl's article on radio ads, I think the reason radio sucks is because of deregulation. When the rules were changed, big conglomerates took over the entire industry and turned it into milquetoast (namely the Clear Channel and Infinity Networks).

Playlists never include anything except music palatable to the broadest of market share. It is only on oddball National Public Radio stations that you'll ever hear European imports, or songs from a new CD that isn't broadly mainstream.

Radio didn't used to be like that. We used to have real DJs who interjected their personal taste into their shows, but stations figured out that the DJ had too much influence on advertisers because audiences fluctuated from one DJ to another. Now DJs are no longer allowed to deviate from the approved playlist. How about the ads? Well, you can only place ads that are 60 seconds long and they stack them in five minute segments. How much can the listening public stand before they switch the channel? Radio sucks because the suits took over and the music and content has been compromised. Who loses? We all do. No one knows like a Los Angeles driver.

Catherine West

Director

Cat West Ads

Los Angeles

In the Western Agency of the Year story on Goodby, Silverstein & Partners [Jan. 20], the captions for the Saturn and Ace Hardware spots were reversed.