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New-age Hucksters

June 09, 1996

Jeff Goodby and Rich Silverstein have been so effective and successful at advertising because they are suspicious of it ("All Right, Who Turned the Advertising World Inside Out?" by Warren Berger, May 5). They only entered the field as a last resort, to earn a paycheck. As a result, they were not schooled in advertising and brainwashed with the standard way of doing things.

So instead of viewing advertising in the traditional way, they look at things from an unconventional, offbeat angle, and that has worked well for them; their approach seems fresh and innovative.

Also, they don't seem to take themselves seriously, even in their attire; instead of wearing coat and tie, they dress casually.

Their goal seems to be not to be the richest agency but simply the best. Such an emphasis of quality over quantity has put them at the top of the advertising heap.

Kenneth L. Zimmerman

Huntington Beach

Goodby and Silverstein say they want to "have an impact on popular culture and maybe change the way people think about advertising"--that they thrive on "tough marketing challenges." But it is one thing to encourage people to buy Polaroid cameras and another to persuade them to spend money on gas-guzzling Isuzu urban assault vehicles. And there's the "Got milk?" campaign that, Berger says, is meant to follow people all the way to the supermarket, despite the negative health implications of milk (childhood allergies, asthma, cholesterol content). (CHECK).

Goodby and Silverstein's "deprivation strategy" is nothing new: Convince people that they are lacking without the advertised product, one that they probably don't really want or need, one that they well might do better without.

Perhaps the two should put their talents to work on creating ads that promote peace and justice.

Paul Herzog


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