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Review: Accounts In Review

Accounts in Review. (1994, January 3). Adweek.


(Download Accounts in Review overview as a PDF)

The broadcast media division of U.S. West, based in Denver, spent over $20 million to advertise their product in 1993…and they were not happy with the results of their investment.

Now, companies like Saatchi & Saatchi of San Francisco, Grey Advertising of Los Angeles, and the incumbent, BBDO of Minneapolis, are spending their own big money in a competitive battle to spend the next $20-30 million that U.S. West will invest in promoting their communications products.

U.S. West is one of several well-known companies and corporations that in January of 1994 were participating in what the advertising industry calls “accounts in review.” This means that they were considering a change in whom they pay to conduct their national advertising campaigns.

In order to enhance sales, these companies disburse millions of dollars to advertising companies. First Interstate Bank will spend $25-30 million; Carl’s Jr. will spend $20 million.

This is not just a big city or global trend. DHL Worldwide Express, based in Redwood City, California, will spend $8 million to encourage potential customers to ship packages with them instead of Federal Express, the U.S. Postal Service, or other carriers.

Do you know what a group called AST Research does? Probably not, but they will spend $15-25 million to ensure that their influence is felt much more widely than merely with the Irvine, California PacTel Corporation.

Secure Horizons, Pizza Hut, and Fox, Inc. are also among many big spenders who will launch new campaigns.

Who will take this money and strategize how to induce, seduce, or do whatever else it takes to get consumers to buy a certain product or service? The “contenders” in this big money game: the advertising agencies.

Organizations, including Western International Media; Bozell/Salvati Montgomery Sakoda; and Goody, Berlin, and Silverstein, are guaranteeing big companies that they will entice the buying public to spend much more than the millions the advertisers are paying.

Advertising agencies cannot afford to fail, or they will be out of a job. Meanwhile, advertising agencies already under contract are under pressure to fulfill expectations so that they might keep their present contracts when they themselves become “accounts in review.”

Questions for Reflections and Discussion

  1. What could you buy with a million dollars?
  2. What could you buy with $20 million?
  3. What does that tell you about the degree to which advertising effects what people think, believe, and do regarding purchasing of products?
  4. Is it realistic to think that peers and families can shape the attitudes, beliefs, and habits of youth who are subject to persuasive advertising? Can good advice and strong local leadership win in million dollar battle?
  5. What do statistics about alcohol usage, sex, and violence among youth-even among kids from strong families and even religious traditions-tell us about the impact of these necessarily aggressive advertising agencies, and the companies who hire them?


  1. Consumers, especially young people, should be educated on the battle that is waged on them.
  2. There are many necessary, good, and useful products advertised on television, as well as those which are appropriate in moderation and with discretion. Some, for children and youth, are inappropriate. Impressionable young people must be taught discernment.
  3. Apply pressure on major corporations and advertisers whose self-serving television efforts result in many young people getting poor messages about what brings true meaning to their lives.
  4. Responsibility must be placed on major corporations and advertisers who do not hold themselves accountable for the negative actions and attitudes that can come as a result of the portrayals of sex, violence, and drug and alcohol usage and glorification on television.

Douglas Howe
© 2018 CYS

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