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Open Mike

12/01/2002 07:00:00 PM Eastern

Stirring Up Distilled Spirits

Editor: I want to thank you for publishing Peter Cressy's commentary ("What's Wrong with Booze on TV," Nov. 18). There are those who will say the reason I am in support of it is financial.

After all, the agency I work for is the media agency for Diageo and helped start the move to broadcast advertising of distilled spirits in the mid-'90s when we were the agency for Seagram's.

Those who truly know me know that it wouldn't be financial if it were not, at first, personally intellectually and emotionally correct. Quite simply, as an American, I believe that everyone should have the freedom to tell their story.

It is intellectually unconscionable to me that there are people in our industry who would restrain the ability of one market player, distilled spirits, from informing the consumer about their products.

It is, at best, bizarre to me that there are still a handful of stations that still think it is not appropriate to run the incredibly responsible advertising that the distilled spirits companies are currently running on over 550 other television stations, thousands of radio stations, a boatload of cable networks and all except one local cable MSO. Of course, the print and out-of-home industries also provide a forum for this advertising.

Quite simply, Americans of legal drinking age are seeing our advertising in many venues. They are seeing responsible, tasteful advertising that is made and placed under the strictest guidelines in the industry to make sure it is appropriately made and, most important, appropriately targeted. Perhaps it is because our clients are so much more responsible than others in the space that we have received only a handful of complaints in seven years—far fewer than we have received on other everyday products.

I hope that Dr. Cressy's eloquent piece will help those few people that choose to restrain their viewers from seeing appropriate market information to realize that they are wrong. I trust that those same few people who choose to restrain a product from advertising its market information will realize that they are being unjust.

If these few people do not understand that it is not only okay to accept this advertising, but also it is intellectually required, then at least they should understand that they are shortchanging the industry's economic vitality.

In sum, I personally came to this issue intellectually first. If these few people who don't run the advertising choose to come at it economically first, that is okay with me.

Jon Mandel, Co-CEO, MediaCom, New York City

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