Planning can help, but only by keeping it simple

I welcome the domestication of planning [Feature, March 31]. I’ve been planning for a couple of decades and have always been open to new and innovative techniques that create closer connections with consumers. At the same time, one has to watch only a little TV each evening to witness the overthinking and overintellectualization that makes a lot of advertising irrelevant to consumers.

Can someone please point me to a successful campaign that couldn’t have been conceived without an understanding of chaos theory, quantum physics or neo-Darwinism? The truth, whether we like it or not, is that most of us are charged with getting an average consumer to make choices about fairly mundane things in his or her life—which toilet tissue to use, which can of soda to grab, which credit card to pull out. This is pretty basic stuff. But too often we are quick to run toward “cutting-edge techniques” and away from the obvious, and too eager to excite ourselves and/or our clients rather than the consumer.

Planners are in a great position to help revitalize this industry. It’s simple: All we have to do is help create ads that produce results for our clients. The domestication of planning will help. And while we should always welcome innovation and experimentation that can help us understand our audiences better, it could also be a good thing that, as Debra Goldman’s article points out, “the cutting-edge tool in many planning departments is quantitative research.”

Barry Martin

Evp, director of planning

Tucker, Hampel, Stefanides & Partners

New York

‘Hidden Pleasures,’ with visible results

As one of the creators of the “Hidden Pleasures” campaign for Seagram’s Gin, I savored (sipped?) Eleftheria Parpis’ article on subliminal advertising [Creative, March 31].

Heck, if we’re going to be accused of placing subliminal messages in ads, we might as well do it and make a game of it. What better way to show the client’s end product larger than life and get gin drinkers to gaze into an ad longer than we could have ever imagined? The fact is, just the hint of subliminal messages immediately turned our campaign into a supraliminal event: It was featured on CBS and in The New York Times, U.S. News & World Report and the Village Voice, among other media outlets. And Seagram’s Gin is, to this day, the No. 1-selling gin in America, by far.

So, to borrow from an old classic in these stentorian and strident ad times: If you want to get someone’s attention, whisper. Or say you’re going to whisper.

John Gruen

Svp, director of advertising

Ruder Finn Creative

New York

‘Cool to Be Real’ isn’t about targeting vegetarians

We’re pleased that your story about the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association’s “Cool to Be Real” program [Shoptalk, March 17] recognized that “the overall message is one of empowerment through healthy eating and exercise.” The association has a long history of providing education about nutrition, health and well-being. Since the 1920s, the nonprofit organization’s charter has included youth education and information programs.

Cool to Be Real (www.cool-2b-real.com) talks to girls on their own terms and helps them develop healthy attitudes about food and their bodies. This is especially important when you consider the current nutritional status of girls nationwide. For example, almost no teen girls (0.6 percent) meet the nutritional guidelines of the Food Guide Pyramid, according to a 1997 U.S. Department of Agriculture study.

Contrary to what was reported in your story, very few 8-12-year-olds (2 percent) practice vegetarianism. The number of teens who follow a vegetarian diet has remained flat for several years, according to the Vegetarian Resource Group. In fact, the number of 8-12-year-old girls who believe vegetarians are healthier than meat eaters has declined by 11 percent in the past two years. Thirty-three percent of girls think meat eaters are healthier, while 13 percent think vegetarians are healthier.

Through the Cool to Be Real program, the NCBA aims to extend its mission of providing nutrition and well-being education to girls so they can make informed and healthy choices. The program reminds girls that staying active and eating smart—from all the food groups—will help them be the best they can be.

Michele Peterson

Manager, media relations

National Cattlemen’s Beef Association

Centennial, Colo.

DraftWorldwide is doing just fine, thank you

As a point of clarification to your Hotlines report that Draft continues to struggle [March 31], our Chicago and New York offices have added eight accounts and 125 people in the past six months. We can’t wait until easier times return.

David Florence



New York

For the Record: Evp, executive creative director Don Schneider is the lead creative on Pepsi at BBDO New York. Brett Shevack is a vice chairman [Report Cards, April 7]. Billings on L’Oréal’s global Plenitude account, awarded last month to McCann-Erickson, are estimated to be more than $80 million [March 24]. In the second annual Maddy Awards [Creative, March 24], the “Quitnet” spot for the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services, a nominee for Best PSA, was created by BBDO Minneapolis, not New York.

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