Wednesday, April 20, 2005


Articles, Musings, and Maybe Some Insights

A few items in the past couple of days are worth noting:

Some recent stories discuss how consumers use multiple media at one time. Yawwwwwwwwwwwwn! But at least we now have statistics. Whether you call it multichannel or cross-media, the alternative-soaked communications business demands that marketers have plans to be everywhere in every way.

Playing on that theme, some of the trackers of the advertising industry are actually getting bullish, especially about new media.
I like the line at the end of the article, "complexity is their friend." This justifies the presence of agencies, a reminder of their purpose, to provide counsel and implementation for things their clients can't. Hence, outsourcing is the manager's friend. I can't say how many times, but it's a lot, where I have seen companies try to bring public relations and advertising in-house, only to realize they save money, but get nothing done. Creativity, urgency, and content suffer significantly. A good agency with an ear to the marketplace, and eye to the future, and an understanding of media saves money in the long run, and raises long term sales and profits. If you don't have the sense that's occurring, the right move is not in-house, it's to a different agency.

I strongly recommend Bob Garfield's article in Advertising Age called "Chaos Scenario." It's at and the readers' responses Garfield was interviewed on NPR

Courier Corporation has had a long string of good earnings reports, some of the best in the industry, but lowered its guidance for upcoming quarters. No explanation why was noted that I could find, so it's not clear if they were "irrationally exuberant" in their forecasts (to use a Greenspan-ism) or if there has been a decrease in demand, more competition, or competition from offshore. It was a surprise.

Economist Larry Kudlow has an update about China that describes the multitude of issues in that area of Asia. Sounds like a mess is brewing. Speaking of that, I was watching C-Span when Schumer was interrogating Treasury Secretary Snow about China's not floating its currency. Schumer was grandstanding when Snow would not say in the meeting that China should let its currency float, when he knew full well that he has been working to do so behind the scenes. Yes, often diplomacy is exercised in private-- shocking! In fact, when Snow said that we don't know what the right value of China's currency is, he was absolutely right, because the forces of the marketplace are not at work. If it is undervalued, the Chinese population is paying for it in terms of increased inflation, and they are bearing the brunt of it. And in a lot of ways it doesn't matter: when foreign countries have lots of dollars, they have to do something with them. Our dollars overseas have to be repatriated here in order to have value. But because they are so easily redeemed in the currency market, they may not be repatriated through China, and may not have to be repatriated immediately, sitting offshore for years. Since the trade data do not include investments made from overseas using dollars acquired from trade, and the data improperly value so many goods, the data are of dubious value anyway. But whatever the course, Schumer knew he had Snow in a situation where he did not want to go on record about the pressure we're putting on China in the backroom discussions, so he just pounced. Snow is a good secretary of the treasury, but the media, and media savvy senators just often eat his lunch.

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