Letter to the editor: Data not everything

I read with fascination and dread Peter Case's scenario for the year 2000 in the April 4 issue ('A client looks to the future.')Fascination, because, hopefully, the technological changes that have already taken place and will continue at ever increasing speed...

I read with fascination and dread Peter Case’s scenario for the year 2000 in the April 4 issue (‘A client looks to the future.’)

Fascination, because, hopefully, the technological changes that have already taken place and will continue at ever increasing speed will allow for more effective communications between consumers and the companies providing products and services for them.

Dread, because Mr. Case and so many others like him seem to believe that high tech can replace creativity.

They seem to forget, or, possibly never understood, that an agency’s strength and value to its clients derives from the fact that they can focus on consumer needs independent of the constraints of their clients’ internal situation.

Agencies also do their best when clients openly provide not only ‘data files,’ but, more importantly, information and direction from that data.

If Mr. Case believes that ‘having data at his fingertips’ is all that’s necessary to create brilliant and effective campaigns, then I can’t help but wonder why it hasn’t happened yet.

At the dawn of the 21st century, we see the banks finally entering the 20th century regarding customer service. Why were the banks open five days a week from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. until only recently?

Profits have returned for the banks, but have they already forgotten the oil patch loans, the Latin American loans, the real estate loans?

What will the next fiasco be that they’ll not see as they jump on some ‘financial guru’s’ bandwagon, only to claim at the end they couldn’t have foreseen the economic changes that brought disastrous losses upon them.

Yes, Mr. Case, consumers are changing and demanding more information, but that doesn’t mean that any message with an 800 number will handle the task.

If an advertising campaign’s strategy is to generate inquiries for information-based material, it still must be handled in a creative and intrusive fashion.

No, Mr. Case, the medium is not the message.

If Canadian firms would spend more time observing consumer behavior and delivering the products and services needed and wanted, they might be in a better position to maintain margins and profits, instead of competing with ‘me too’ products almost entirely on price as they do today.

And the ads they produce will do the job if they remember that advertising is a promise the advertiser makes to the consumer.

And Mr. Case should remember that those promises must be kept.

Contrary to what Mr. Case believes, agencies should not, and will not, be relegated to ‘negotiating, buying and trafficking’ in-house media plans.

Agencies will continue to provide effective counsel to their clients on marketing and communications for those clients who are open with their agencies and challenge them to perform.

And give them the necessary tools.

Howard Golberg

President

Publicite Pinnacle Advertising

Montreal