The ad from hell
BY RUTH SHALIT
In his lawsuit against ad agency Saatchi & Saatchi, Just for Feet
CEO Harold Ruttenberg says that although he had serious misgivings about the
ad, Saatchi & Saatchi "badgered" him into going with it. How did this timid, defenseless, meek little guy get to be CEO of a $750 million company? Even more amazing is the fact that he is also
suing Fox for not having aired the commercial in the third quarter, which
generally has more viewer hits than the fourth quarter. So what we have here
is a CEO who is suing one party for allegedly causing grievous damage to his
company, and is suing another party because the alleged damage wasn't as much
as it might otherwise have been. Is Ruttenberg a CEO who
blames others for his own acts of gross incompetence at the helm?
-- Michael R. DiBlasio
I am appalled that the lawsuit against the agency is moving forward. The
consensus that the ad should have never run, during the Super Bowl or at
any other time, is not the issue at hand. Ultimately, Just For Feet
signed off on producing and running the spot. The creatives may have
badgered the executives to move forward with the ad, but that violates
neither any law nor the agency/client contract I'm sure the two parties
have. The staff at Saatchi & Saatchi would not have stopped working on a
million-dollar spot set to air during the biggest TV event of the year
just because the client decided to kill their first (and ultimately
As nauseating as a blatantly distasteful commercial is, yet another
frivolous lawsuit is even harder to stomach.
-- Rob Baird
West & Vaughan Advertising
The ad may have been from hell, but the free publicity is from heaven. I never heard of Just for Feet until I read your article.
I hope Harold Ruttenberg is victorious in court -- creativity need not pander to racist images in advertising. Even more injurious to Just for Feet was Fox's shifting of the ad to the fourth quarter when Just for Feet had newspaper ads promoting the commercials in the third quarter. If there's any justice, Saatchi & Saatchi should be obliged to create a new ad for Just for Feet, at Saatchi's expense, to Ruttenberg's satisfaction, with Fox airing the spot as a "make good" in its next ratings-bonanza sporting event.
-- Lori R. Price
BY ANNE LAMOTT
Anne Lamott and all those captivated by David Roche must read Mario Vargas Llosa's beautiful short novel "The Storyteller," the astoundingly parallel story of a Peruvian with a raised, purple, disfiguring birthmark on half of his face, who becomes a storyteller among a primitive Amazon tribe, "the figure ancestrally entrusted with the task of arousing the curiosity, the fantasy, the memory, the appetite for dreams and fabrication" of his people. What more fitting description of Roche, or of a writer like Lamott?
-- Beth LaDow
Traitor in chief
BY DAVID HOROWITZ
David Horowitz ignores or glosses over one key point in the Cox
Report: The leaks at our national labs are a direct result of GOP
privatizing of security forces. Every secret garnered by our enemies
came from the Reagan/Bush administrations. Does he really think that a
few thousand dollars in campaign contributions was enough to buy the
level of treason he suggests?
Even more frightening is his call for renewed efforts to build a missile defense system. I shudder to
think how many billions of our tax dollars were flushed down the toilet
in that effort. The brightest scientists in the world told Reagan that
it would be decades before that kind of technology existed, if it ever
did. Should we further mortgage our future on that pipe dream?
He says that history will judge this administration harshly. I have no doubt
that historians will view the Reagan/Bush years as the time our nation
was brought to the brink of ruin. Clinton saved us from the GOP.
-- Charles H. Lumsden
Horowitz's blind trust in the China data provided by the CIA is pretty
amusing, since the CIA didn't even know the correct address of the
Chinese embassy in Belgrade. His apologies for the Chinese spying done
under past Republican administrations are worth a few chuckles, too.
After all, the Nixon, Reagan and Bush administrations' Cold War
courtship of the Chinese precipitated this situation. Most delicious of
all is his tone of offended virtue. The United States has spied on
China and the rest of the world for decades; is anyone surprised that
they are busily spying back?
-- Nancy Ott
In his ravings against Bill Clinton, David Horowitz suggests that Bill
is somehow personally guilty of handing secrets to China. Horowitz is
wrong. Missile and satellite information was handed to China by Big
Business. Horowitz slides right past the names of Loral and Hughes, who actually
gave secrets to the Chinese, and suggests it's all Clinton's fault
because he accepted "bribes" (in the form of campaign contributions)
from those companies, waived security standards and enabled them
to give away the store. Why aren't these multibillion-dollar companies
named as traitors by Horowitz?
Maybe Horowitz should step back a bit and ask why Loral and Hughes were
in China launching U.S. satellites. Was it impossible for them to buy
rockets and rent launch facilities in the United States? Of course they could
have. They chose not to because it was cheaper
in China. Because of the "privatization" of the satellite launching
business, these corporations were free to take sensitive technologies
(developed with taxpayer money) and hardware (paid for by taxpayers) to
a foreign country in their quest to save a buck. U.S. jobs were lost to
low-paid foreigners while U.S. corporations made money. Very
NAFTA-esque. Very popular with Republicans.
-- Ron Ralston
DAVID HOROWITZ RESPONDS ...
Anyone who can write that "every secret garnered by our enemies came from the
Reagan/Bush administrations" is ignorant of the contents of the bipartisan Cox
Report. Read it. Perhaps Nancy Ott has a private anti-missile defense that makes
her so complacent. Perhaps she will share it with the rest of us. As for Ron
Ralston's claim that big business did it, as though every large business in
America were culpable, perhaps it's worth reminding him that the head of Loral is the largest individual Clinton campaign contributor.
Shays calls the GOP's bluff
BY JAKE TAPPER
Although I'm a dyed-in-the-wool Democrat, I always vote for Chris Shays because I
trust him to vote his conscience and to take a stand against his party if
that's what he honestly feels has to be done. His actions, then,
best represent his Fairfield County constituents, because he doesn't
automatically toe the party line. Imagine if only we had more politicians
like Shays: Congresspeople giving serious thought and
consideration to issues, weighing the input of the people who
elected them rather
than just voting with their party to stay in favor with the speaker.
How different would our government be if more people were willing to
piss off the patricians?
-- Anne Flounders
The teachings of Bill Bonanno: A wise-guy way of knowledge
BY DOUGLAS CRUICKSHANK
I am writing in defense of the mafioso Mr. Ed. "Mafiosi" is the plural of
"mafioso," which functions as both noun and adjective. It is indeed
applied to animals as well as people, as Mr. Bonanno so ineptly
attempts to point out, since its basic meaning has nothing to do with
crime but rather refers to stylistic qualities of magnificence,
spiritedness and swagger. "Mafioso" is, in fact, often used to
describe particularly impressive horses.
In all seriousness, it is understandably annoying to have one's language
treated so cavalierly by either American journalists or Italian-American
authors. The all too common sloppiness exhibited in regard to even the
most elementary Italian usage by Americans is suggestive of an underlying attitude toward
Italians as a people who do not possess a language of a stature
equal to English, German, French and Spanish.
This attitude can only be counted an ironic example of cultural
prejudice, as well as yet another commentary on the sad state of
American education, since Italian is the only major European tongue
whose literature of the 13th century remains comprehensible to today's
speakers, due to its consistently well-defined nature and the
incomparably long unbroken history of its literary tradition.
-- Tom DiFelice