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Consumers Are Fed Up with Corporate Advertising & Manipulation

Commercial Alert, April 14, 2004

Today, the New York Times reports on a new poll showing that a majority of
Americans are fed up with the hailstorm of advertising we all suffer
through. According to theYankelovich Partners poll:

* 65 percent said they believed that they "are constantly bombarded with too
much" advertising;
* 61 percent agreed that the amount of advertising and marketing to which
they are exposed "is out of control";
* 60 percent said their opinion of advertising "is much more negative than
just a few years ago";
* 54 percent of the survey respondents said they "avoid buying products that
overwhelm them with advertising and marketing";
* 69 percent said they "are interested in products and services that would
help them skip or block marketing;" and,

This polling data is wonderful news. We're obviously riding (and creating)
a groundswell of public support. This bodes well for our campaigns to limit
ad creep. The rising disgust with advertising and commercialism will help
us prevail in board rooms, schools, town halls, state legislatures, courts
and Congress. It also bodes well for the future of Commercial Alert.
Thanks to people like you who are organizing in your communities and
teaching others about commercialism, we are growing stronger each day.

The Times story is below.

http://www.nytimes.com/2004/04/14/business/media/14adco.html?pagewanted=prin
t&position=

New Survey on Ad Effectiveness
By Stuart Elliott

Times 4/14/04

As the kingpins of Madison Avenue gather for a major annual meeting, there
is further evidence of the growing challenge they confront in seeking to
break through the cacophony of advertising that surrounds - and increasingly
annoys - consumers.

At the 2004 management conference of the American Association of Advertising
Agencies, which begins today in Miami, senior executives will learn the
results of a survey of consumers conducted on behalf of the organization by
Yankelovich Partners, the market research company. The survey, to be
presented tomorrow at the opening general session of the conference, shows
that the effectiveness of campaigns that agencies produce for marketers is
deteriorating, said J. Walker Smith, president at Yankelovich, because

The survey findings are significant because industry executives are
frantically searching for ways to forge more emotional connections with
fractious, and fractionated, consumers that differ from conventional methods
like running 30-second television commercials and print advertisements.

The risk posed by some of the new approaches, like placing sponsored brand
messages or products in the entertainment content of programs or
publications, is that consumers will consider such selling strategies even
more obnoxious.

"People have a love-hate relationship with advertising," said Mr. Smith, who
offered a preview of the survey in an interview before the conference began.
"But a far greater percentage are saying they have concerns, primarily
related to its growing obtrusiveness."

For instance, Mr. Smith said, 54 percent of the survey respondents said they
"avoid buying products that overwhelm them with advertising and marketing";
60 percent said their opinion of advertising "is much more negative than
just a few years ago"; 61 percent said they agreed that the amount of
advertising and marketing to which they are exposed "is out of control."

Also, 65 percent said they believed that they "are constantly bombarded with
too much" advertising; and 69 percent said they "are interested in products
and services that would help them skip or block marketing."

How to market an antimarketing product to people surfeited with marketing?
Ah, there's the rub.

Even when fewer than a majority of the survey respondents agreed with a
statement, Mr. Smith said, the results offered little solace for agencies.
For example, what he called a "fairly significant" 45 percent of respondents
said the amount of advertising and marketing they were exposed to "detracts
from the experience of everyday life," while 33 percent said they "would be
willing to have a slightly lower standard of living to live in a society
without marketing and advertising."

The results also offer some suggestions, Mr. Smith said, to help narrow what
he described as "the growing gap between how consumers want to be
communicated with and the way advertisers communicate with them." For
example, respondents said "there's an opportunity for advertising to become
a source of competitive advantage for a brand," Mr. Smith said, "if it's
focused on product features and services."
"The marketing itself has become part of how consumers view a brand," Mr.
Smith said, "so if you have two brands at parity with each other, more and
more the one people are likely to do business with is the one that does a
better job in reaching them with its advertising."

The association, which represents 1,196 agencies that place an estimated 75
percent of all national advertising, recognizes it must address the
consumers' changing attitudes, if some other topics on the conference agenda
are any indication.

Among the subjects to be discussed at the conference, which continues
through Friday at the Ritz-Carlton South Beach hotel, are "advertising in
the age of obesity," the title of a speech by Tommy G. Thompson, the
secretary of health and human services, and how agencies can develop more
effective campaigns, to be covered by August A. Busch IV, president of
Anheuser-Busch.

Other topics are how agencies can create campaigns consumers will like more,
or at least dislike less, to be discussed by Linda Kaplan Thaler, chief
executive and chief creative officer at the Kaplan Thaler Group in New York,
part of the Publicis Groupe, and how perceptions of the agency business need
to be improved, to be addressed by Ron Berger, elected last month as the
chairman of the association for 2004-6.

"Our industry must do a better job of talking about the tremendous value we
create for clients and the economy," said Mr. Berger, who is also chief
executive and chief creative officer at Euro RSCG MVBMS Partners in New
York, part of the Euro RSCG Worldwide division of Havas.

Although "the last few years for the industry have not been great ones,"
said Mr. Berger, who offered a preview of his remarks in a recent interview,
"I just don't think other industries beat themselves up the way we do."

Even if, as has been widely discussed, the traditional 30-second spot has
devolved into a much less effective way to sell goods and services, Mr.
Berger said, "so what?"

"The great agencies don't say, The 30-second commercial is dead, so we're
dead. They understand that, and embrace that, and will reinvent themselves
and what they do to market brands and products."

"The idea that TiVo, remote controls, any technology, is fatal to our
business I find absurd," he said. "The opportunities of technology and what
it enables us to do are more exciting than at any time in our history."

Mr. Berger's enthusiasm may be contagious, if judged by the advance
registration for the conference, typically a good gauge of how optimistic or
pessimistic agency executives are about prospects for the industry.

Almost 330 people have registered ahead of the conference, said O. Burtch
Drake, president and chief executive of the association, known as the Four
A's, compared with the 257 who attended the 2003 conference and the 293 at
the 2002 conference.

Although the anticipated attendance is lower than for the boom year of 2000,
when 450 people attended, Mr. Drake said, "we're going to have the largest
member attendance since 1990," which is attendees minus speakers,
representatives of media companies and other organizations like the
Association of National Advertisers, spouses and reporters.

"I'm feeling really good about the meeting," Mr. Drake said, "finally."

<---article ends here--->

ABOUT COMMERCIAL ALERT:
Commercial Alert is a national nonprofit organization whose mission is to
keep the commercial culture within its proper sphere, and to prevent it from
exploiting children and subverting the higher values of family, community,
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http://www.commercialalert.org.

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--
Gary Ruskin | Executive Director | Commercial Alert
gary@commercialalert.org | http://www.commercialalert.org/
Congressional Accountability Project | http://www.congressproject.org/
phone: 503.235.8012 | fax: 503.235.5073

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