There are some things that shouldn’t be for sale

As I read Marian Salzman’s column about buzz marketing [“Chattering Classes,” A&C, Oct. 24], I experienced a strange mix of emotions. First I realized that I felt excitement at the vicarious thrill of temporarily inhabiting the mind of someone like Marian who is so passionate about what she does that it is infectious. That’s how Marian can be so very good at what she does, which she is. The possibilities in marketing now are so endless and exciting that pretty soon I imagine we’ll be discussing nano-marketing and how to place ads on molecules (you read it here first).

That brave new excitement quickly gave way to the unctuous reality of what Marian seems to be espousing and the effervescent ability to justify anything as long as you can cite a precedent for it. Personal conversations are not branding opportunities. They are personal conversations. If one person is being paid to talk to another, then the dynamic can never be pure, unless they end up sleeping together, in which case I believe the “buzz agent” should give the money back. On second thought, we could introduce a new patented concept. Branded sex, anyone? There are things that should not be for sale. And there are things that are for sale and shouldn’t be, such as the innocence of a child and people’s personal experiences. Just because messages reach children before they can see-hear-think doesn’t meant we should open up that space like a drive-through target range.

And yes, branded news and branded chat and branded bowel movements are here, but it’s not all happy happy (strange words coming from someone who opened up a branded-entertainment boutique in 1999 with enough irrational exuberance to fill an iPod Grande). The point is this: As marketers and advertisers, shouldn’t we examine our actions as we take them rather than take the “shoot them all and let God sort it out” strategy? I’m not advocating legislation either, but frankly, our industry does not have a sterling record of self-policing when it comes to moral and ethical dilemmas such as this.

The price of pimping out the entire mind-eye-body space without a second thought: culturally expensive. Leaving it up to consumers to “avert their gaze”: priceless.

Dan Braun

Creative director


New York

For the record: In Best Spots [Nov. 14], McCann Erickson in New York, not JWT, created the Dentyne Fire Mints “Drug Store Romance” ad. Also, BBDO’s “All Night Long” spot is for Mountain Dew MDX, not DMX. A caption on the People page [Oct. 31] misidentified the affiliation of Phyllis Robinson. She is president of Phyllis K. Robinson Inc.

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