Madison Briefs

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… Young & Rubicam, though fast out of the box during Tuesday’s initial public offering, to settle into a trading range considerably below that of Madison Ave. stalwarts Omnicom Group and the Interpublic Group, both of which boast price/earnings multiples in the low 30s. Y&R’s problem is that, for three consecutive years, it hasn’t had earnings, prompting one Wall Streeter to ponder: “How can a 75-year-old advertising agency not have earnings?”

… BPI Communications, owner of the Clio Awards being handed out by the bushel-load this week, to try not to sue organizers of the Schmios, which on Tuesday awarded (though none was accepted) its honors for “Dubious Advertising Achievement.”

The Schmios elicited BPI’s wrath last year, not to mention threats of legal action, when they were more forthrightly called the Anti-Clios.

But that was before New York U. prof and media critic Neil Postman exhumed an apocryphal “Henry Wadsworth Schmio” on whom to hang the foundation. Postman even attributed an ad line to the colonial copywriter, which he recited in his role as Schmio emcee: “If You Have any Gut Inya’ … Vote for the Man from Virginia.”

Whether the Schmios’ reconstructed legend will work for BPI, publisher of Adweek, Billboard and other trades, remains to be seen.

On one hand, support for the First Amendment remains an article of faith among publishers. On the other hand, it’s more than happenstance that “Business Pursues Income” produces a relevant acronym.

Our guess is that BPI will ultimately succumb to its litigious reflex, thus furthering the very public discussion about advertising that the Schmios’ many sponsors and affiliates, which include the Adbusters, who contributed the Calvin Klein spoof (right) to the Schmios, are trying to facilitate.

… Young upstarts, and not-so-young upstarts, to perfect not only cross-promotion, which some already do well, but cross-selling between radio and TV station groups. The original field of CBS Corp. and Clear Channel Communications is getting downright crowded, with Chancellor Media Corp. and now Emmis Broadcasting joining the fray in very big ways.

Says Arnie Semsky, exec VP of media at global shop BBDO Worldwide: “No one has ever successfully cross-sold TV and radio, which is almost a good enough reason for it to happen.”

Semsky suspects the rush will resurrect some ol’ “image transference” talk, which had it that the impact of money spent upfront on TV commercials could be economically extended by transferring select images to print. If it worked with print then, why not with radio now?

Better yet, why now — period? Because the players needed enabling legislation to string together enough radio and TV stations in any one market to cross sell at all. “This couldn’t begin rolling,” Schroder & Co. media analyst Niraj Gupta explains, “until the telecom act was passed in 1996.”

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