Letters

The medium is the message
Regarding Barry Base's article ('Advertising ain't over yet, baby,' Strategy, Oct. 7/02), as a public relations practitioner I'd just like to point out that Mr. Base used a standard public relations tactic to deliver his message about the strength of advertising.

The medium is the message

Regarding Barry Base’s article (‘Advertising ain’t over yet, baby,’ Strategy, Oct. 7/02), as a public relations practitioner I’d just like to point out that Mr. Base used a standard public relations tactic to deliver his message about the strength of advertising. To quote another great media mind, Marshall McLuhan, ‘The medium is the message.’

Naomi Strasser

President, Aerial Communications Group

Toronto, Ont.

Advertisers must be more sensitive

A few weeks ago, street racing caused the death of an RCMP officer in Richmond, and people are pissed.

Soon after, in the National Post, a quarter page ad ran for Dunlop Tire which included the image of speeding traffic and this copy: ‘Stroke my ego. Give me a speeding ticket.’

I e-mailed the following letter to Dunlop and copied the head of the RCMP in Richmond.

Dear Dunlop Tire people:

Your ad in the National Post struck a note with me. Your company needs to do a bit of thinking…because the ad, and your ‘branding,’ is bloody stupid.

On Sunday a Richmond, B.C. RCMP officer was killed by some pumped-up buck in his hot car. He ran a light around 150kph and broadsided the RCMP car. Bingo. Dead.

[The buck] was racing. And if you people are paying attention…you’d know street racing is a HUGE issue.

But no…you’re smarter.

‘Stroke my ego. Give me a speeding ticket’ says the ad.

You, your ad people…and your leadership need to shake your heads and ask yourself: ‘What were we thinking?’

Your ad says to these kids it’s cool to speed. And don’t tell me it doesn’t. Dumb. Dumb. Dumb.

Michelin ‘owns’ safety…and I’ll buy their tires if they’re twice the price of yours. Dunlop owns sophomoric strategic thinking and repulsive ads.

You owe that officer’s family, the RCMP and the rest of us…an apology.

Two days later I hadn’t heard from Dunlop. I sent an email asking: ‘Do you think this issue is going to go away?’ and 10 minutes later had this reply:

Robb

It is with sincere apologies that I am responding to your e-mail. Our intent was never to promote the virtues of street racing to any age. Your note, along with the recent events in B.C., have forced us to look back and ask ourselves ‘what were we thinking’. The advertising has gone too far.

Accordingly, we have decided to pull the ad you have questioned, along with all other Dunlop advertising currently running in the same campaign, from all media, effective immediately. We will go back to the drawing board with a much more tempered perspective of what is acceptable to the Canadian public, and what is right, when it comes to influencing the habits and behaviour of the youth today.

As you may guess, we were trying to reach a younger audience of potential tire buyers with this advertising. Our research indicated that to be successful with this age category, we needed to portray an image of ‘cool, hip and worldly’. However, it appears that we have crossed the line with our most recent attempts.

Yours was one of three letters that we received, yet under the circumstances it was enough to alert us to the need to unbiasedly re-look at what we were doing. We thank you for taking time from your schedules to force this action.

I have just returned from out of town, and I also hope that you will forgive me for taking this long to respond.

Our advertising was overly aggressive and insensitive, and it does not need to be. I again hope that you will forgive us.

Sincerely,

Ian McIntosh

General Manager, Advertising and Marketing Services

The question is: Are advertisers, and their agencies, insensitive? Are they in touch with the issues of the day? Are lots of products being pushed at kids that encourage them to break the law – like street racing?

Robb Lucy

Engage Communications

Vancouver, B.C.

Déjà vu

I just received my Oct. 21 issue of Strategy and thought the advertising Push did for Sugo (‘Push feeds their Sugo cravings,’ p. 5; also p. 1 picture) was quite good. However, I enjoyed the campaign even more the first time it ran and won awards for Kafein by Mazzy-Noe Advertising in Chicago.

Craig Markou

Art director, Griffin Bacal Volny, Toronto