This is in reply to "Thumbs Down" (Hands On, August), in which the Made In America campaign that used the A-OK sign was disparaged because of some cultural sensitivities.
We are the public relations agency that created the campaign for two of our clients, both U.S. manufacturers that wanted their domestic customers to know that their products were American made. The symbol was made available to all other U.S. companies for the price of a photostat.
In a nationwide competition, the winning symbol was selected by three eminent graphic designers, including Saul Bass. All parties were aware that the A-OK hand sign had negative connotations in certain foreign cultures. We reasoned, however, that the gesture is an upbeat American signal, a mark of optimism and triumph that all Americans would instantly recognize and accept.Since this campaign was aimed solely at the domestic marketplace, we were not concerned about what people on distant shores might think.
On Friday, July 19, 1985, the front pages of most major newspapers across the country carried a photo of President Reagan gesturing to crowds from his window at Bethesda Naval Hospital. His gesture? The A-OK sign.
Finally, your statement that "the campaign was scrapped" is wrong. It is still moving along, and we are still receiving requests for the symbol from business-people, many of whom are using it on their packaging to distinguish their products from imported ones. I should also mention that each time we send out a stat of the symbol, we include a cautionary note advising the recipient that the A-OK symbol is considered offensive to some foreign cultures and should be used only in the domestic market.