Window on Terror

Our Brooklyn waterfront ad agency markets itself as “Marino & Co.: An ad agency with a view.” On Sept. 11, our view of the terrifying collapse of the twin towers will be forever etched in our collective minds. Our entire staff was looking out our huge warehouse windows in disbelief. My first thought was how visually dramatic the slow-motion implosion was against the brilliant sunlit sky. Screams and crying from my staff sent me back, in seconds, to reality. A new reality. Was the collapse due to another suicide plane crash or missile? Are we under a military attack? Within minutes, F16s zoomed across our beloved harbor, seeming to protect the Statue of Liberty.

Our agency was by now a gathering place for friends, relatives and children of staff members. Needless to say, we closed shop in a hurry and started to head for our cars. Our complex was littered with charred remains of memos, expense accounts and personal papers of the innocent victims from ground zero. Like the rest of America we have a flag now flying from that same window. Our view will never be the same. Our agency will never be the same. We will never be the same. Hopefully, we will be stronger. Our message for that shining city across the harbor: Our office might be located in Brooklyn, but our hearts and prayers are with our brothers and sisters in Manhattan.
Dom Marino
Creative director, partner
Marino and Co.
New York

Strategists Keep ‘Mega Media Machines’ in Check

I read Jack Feuer’s piece on “media consiglieri” [A&C, Sept. 10] and couldn’t help but respond.

According to the column, huge media agencies’ deep resources and smart people may make media strategy consultants unnecessary.

I propose a different view: Maybe separate strategic counsel is needed, not because the mega media shops aren’t smart, but because they apply those smarts to the wrong end: to justify and perpetuate the buying machines they’ve become.

Our role as media people is to help solve clients’ business problems. While that might sound obvious, truly customized, business-results-driven media thinking is too rarely delivered by most media agencies today.

Instead, we see media plans and buys that perpetuate the industry status quo—i.e., the generally accepted belief that the key to effective media is cheap eyeballs. Plans are written against demographic clusters that long ago stopped predicting consumer behavior (if they ever did)—because that’s how TV is sold, and because the sheer number of impressions calculated against such large groups can bring false comfort to clients. “Results” are measured in CPMs, GRPs or computer-optimized reach estimates instead of sales or other marketplace outcomes. Buys are laden with ill-suited media vehicles because “that’s how you get the CPM down.” And all the while, the mega media machines keep humming along, larger and larger.

I don’t disagree with the assertion that the largest media shops have smart people. What I contest is the assumption that the presence of smart people ensures the most valuable thinking for clients. That’s a huge leap of faith when an organization is so invested in the status quo as to make it highly undesirable to support original, flexible thinking.

What clients need is unbiased, strategic media thinking that aims to solve business problems and create powerful marketplace results. That’s what we pride ourselves on here at Fallon Media. If others can deliver it—be they the mega firms or media-strategy boutiques—our industry will be the better for it.

Lisa Seward
Media director