DIRECTOR   Arkady Droit


Let us take another postwar subject that is of great interest nowadays— advertising in foreign countries. There is in agency circles—and therefore there must be in business circles—a wave of planning and activity which largely centers on Latin America; and this in the face of the fact that authorities differ widely on the promise of the market. The optimists think we shall be able to build a substantial market for American goods. The pessimists say we have no chance. Time only will tell. In our agency we have started a Latin-American division, but I presume you are familiar with the handicaps under which we work regarding market and media information. Some countries do not even have national population statistics. Analytical figures on living habits and standards are almost unknown. Even figures on media come only from the owners of the media, which compares with the days before the A.B.C. in this country. Our own view is that Latin America holds enough promise to be a good gamble, and that we should make every effort to help our clients develop it. We believe that our first step should be an organized effort to introduce American research methods into our own work there, and to encourage their general adoption wherever they can throw light on the Latin-American picture as a whole. Our first step will be to try to bring our clients better information— better organized, more thorough, and more reliable—than they have had before. through a combination of native talent, Gallup training, and close supervision. In that way we hope to make a contribution not only to our own effectiveness, but to the better understanding of the market. A great deal of Latin America is illiterate, but radio should make illiteracy less of a market limitation in the future than it has been in the past. It is reasonable to believe that after the war radio sets will be purchasable for two or three dollars, and that in reasonable time they will reach into the hinterlands of every part of the world, greatly closing the present gap between the backward man and his modern brother. There is one question that must be answered before we can know much about our own foreign trade future, and that is: Are we going to become economic isolationists—whether by design or by default? A knowing man told me last night that he can see economic isolationism growing up in the United States by the hour. It's the same old short-sighted attitude, he says: ambitious plans for selling to the other fellow, but blind unwillingness to buy from him—which can only end in not selling to him either.