Sep 28

How come?

c452279cc538120aa9fe397f96351cacHow come the countless incendiary comments made by a certain presidential contender are not only found acceptable by 50 percent of the electorate, but applauded for “telling like it is?”  I ask because, if any one of those racial, gender and religious slurs were to be uttered by any CEO of any company in America, there would be immediate consequences.

Could you imagine GE’s Jeff Immelt calling his CMO “Miss Piggy?”

How about Mark Zuckerberg telling his Latino and black employees their neighborhoods are “hellholes”?

What about Jamie Dimon informing Muslims employees at JP Morgan Chase he’d be working with community leaders to close their mosques?

I guarantee the boards of GE, Facebook and JP Morgan Chase, respectively, would demand their immediate resignations. And, I’d be willing to bet a large portion of said presidential contender’s base would be fully supportive of penalizing such unacceptable behavior.

So, why don’t the same rules apply to the man running for chief executive of our country? How can any minority voter whose sensibilities have been repeatedly attacked still stand by their man? It defies logic. And, yet, there it is.

The larger question I’m grappling with is this: If the presidential contender should be sworn in as our next president, will he advocate for a return to the future when it comes to political correctness in the workplace?

Will he lobby for banishing the ethics and moral codes that guide many (but, not all) of America’s business and industry?

And what about his base? Will they think it’s now acceptable to behave like Don Draper, Roger Sterling and Duck Phillips (love, love, love the nickname Duck, BTW)?

I miss quite a bit when it comes to pundits weighing in on the circus-like spectacle that is the presidential election. But, I’ve yet to hear anyone opine on the possible return of crassness in Corporate America.

Fully half of the electorate want change. And they want it now. But, will that change also include turning back the clock 60 years when it comes to how we treat one another at work?

I worry because when the leader leads, the followers follow.

Sep 26

Country of Sedition

6776b7aedad6447b87ee01c5e20904b2I’m whipping through a fascinating new book, “City of Sedition – The History of New York City During the Civil War” by John Strausbaugh.

While I fashion myself something of a Civil War and New York City history buff, I kid you not when I say I’m learning two or three new facts every single page.

The most striking thing about the book, though, is its timeliness.

I know the expansion of slavery into newly-admitted states was the cause of the Civil War. I also know about the bloodshed in Bleeding Kansas and elsewhere.

But, I was unaware of the pure hatred between longtime friends and family members that existed well before the war. While nearly every white person North and South viewed blacks as an inferior race, many, but not all, Northerners saw slavery as abhorrent. In fact, there were multiple factions within the North (and, in particular, New York City) who were fully committed to supporting the Southern cause prior to, and during, the war.

Surprisingly, the Big Apple’s Southern sympathizers were a mix of the one-percenters and the lower class of the day (sound familiar?). Manhattan’s merchants were making an absolute killing importing cotton from Dixie and then shipping it to Europe on ship after ship.

NYC’s other Southern sympathizers were the Irish Catholics. They’d already seen free blacks take away their low-paying jobs and worried that, once freed, slaves would take away whatever other low-paying gigs were left (again, sound familiar?). The Irish Catholics hatred and fear of blacks would lead to a week-long riot in Manhattan in 1863.

We’re surrounded by the same level of fear and hate today. We live in a country of sedition where supporters of Trump and Clinton shout and scream at each other in arguments that often escalate to fisticuffs.

I experienced this first-hand about a month ago when I dined with my 96-year-old dad who, while amazingly vital mentally and physically, espouses political views that would shame David Duke.

I was countering his more outrageous statements when a soccer mom stormed up to our table, poked me in the arm and said, “You are beyond ignorant. You’re a traitor and you’re supporting a traitor for president!” I tried to ignore her but, in a flash, her burly husband stormed our table as well.

“You giving my wife lip, a*shole?”

Keep in mind that I was with my 96-year-old dad and, at the time, was sporting an ankle-to-hip leg brace.

I took a deep breath, grabbed the table and lifted myself up. “Look buddy,” I said, if I had two legs and wasn’t with my dad, I’d be happy to take the conversation outside.”

At this point, the aggressors realized the entire restaurant had grown silent. The thuggish husband surveyed the scene, looked at my leg brace, glanced at my dad and then grabbed his wife. As he walked he away, he shouted, “We don’t talk to traitors!”

The issues have changed, as have the players. But, make no mistake. We are once again headed on a collision course between two completely different mindsets that will forever change the country in one way or another.

Lincoln preserved the union in 1865. I just don’t see anyone doing the same in 2016.

Sep 20

The Deplorable Prospect: After Word

BULLIES 4Since so many of you were kind enough to weigh-in yesterday with your thoughts on the increasingly boorish behavior of prospective clients, I thought I’d share the ending of the sad tale I had told.

As expected, we revived a ‘Dear Agency’ letter which, although sanitized to protect the names of the guilty, will provide insight into the sleazy underbelly of PR that our noble trade media pretend doesn’t exist.

Keep in mind, this Dear Agency form letter was received more than two weeks after the prospect had demanded fresh ideation the afternoon after we pitched them the morning on that same day.

We complied, and then our point person placed countless follow-up e-mails and voice mails that were completely ignored. It was painful to be copied on his numerous attempts and scan the in-box for some sort of acknowledgement.

Nothing.

And, then this letter arrived yesterday (the date of the product launch they had originally asked us to pitch. I thought the timing of the note was a particularly sleazy aspect to the entire deplorable affair).

Anyway, please read on (and, weigh-in with comments). I especially enjoyed David Baker’s tongue-lashing about playing right into the prospect’s hands and not “interrupting the entire RFP process as so many others have.” That elicited a hearty LOL from this blogger:

Hi XXXXX

Thanks for participating in our search for a new PR partner.

We appreciate the thoughtfulness of your submission and the timely manner in which you returned everything. We also very much enjoyed meeting with you and meeting your team in New York at your office.

It was a hard decision and it ultimately took us a little longer than expected to make a decision as we wanted to be thorough in our approach.

As a result, we have decided to go with another partner who more closely aligns with our strategic needs at this time.

Thank you for your time and best wishes in the future.

XXXXX

Sep 19

The rise of the deplorable prospect

This post is dedicated to Peppercommer Carl “Union Jack” Foster.

71802598This past Summer was beyond bizarre in so many ways for me personally, my agency and my country (Note: I have papers proving I’m an American citizen).
Today’s bizarre subject is the alarming rise of absolutely deplorable conduct on the part of prospects. It’s always existed but, like certain campaign rallies, seems to have reached a crescendo in the past few months.

Here’s the most recent example:

Prospect invites us to pitch a major new product/service offering. Tells us we’re on the short list. Puts us on a tight time frame to prepare the pitch and emphasizes two critical needs: a highly creative launch idea and extensive media experience.
Prospect team (including the company president) shows up at our digs.

Presentation goes swimmingly. Prospect, especially the president, loves our “big idea”.

Meeting concludes with CMO saying, “Impressive, but let’s ideate on a really big idea. What other thoughts do you have to share?”

We asked for a few hours, and promised we’d cook-up another kick-ass idea (all gratis, needless to say).

And, we did. It was brilliant. It dotted the I’s and crossed the T’s of every single strategic parameter the prospect hoped to achieve on launch day.

We immediately sent the CMO our idea.

And, that was that. No response. No “Thanks for the quick turnaround. We’ll review and revert” (one of my all-time favorite consultant-speak phrases, BTW.) No nothing.

Our point person sent a follow-up note to see if the CMO had any questions. No response. I already knew in my heart of hearts that we were dead (because this sort of deplorable prospect behavior has become de rigeur).

The days passed. The silence was deafening (I’d love to know who coined that phrase. Positively brilliant).

Cutting to the chase, our point person continued to e-mail, leave voice mails and do everything short of showing up in the lobby of the prospect’s building and ambushing the CMO on the way in or out (I may still make him do so, but ask that he videotape the prospect’s response. Guarantee it would be YouTube-worthy).

And, here we are. Weeks after that one meeting and that one request for one big idea.

I’d kill to out this prospect and list the CMO as positively toxic to agencies.

But:

A.) That’s not the way I play the game.

B) If I actually did so, I’d be entering the deplorable zone since myself since it would hurt the CMO’s image and reputation.

And, so these deplorable prospects continue to roam our streets footloose and fancy-free with no repercussions whatsoever for putting an agency through the ringer, picking their brain and undoubtedly implanting their ideas themselves.

These are the stories you won’t read about in PR trades (who continue to portray our industry as a latter-day Shangri-La).

But, kids, these are the trials and tribulations that are a reality of the agency world. Sadly, they mirror the very same type of deplorable conduct we’re seeing in the country as a whole.

Sep 12

I’ll take biggest business blunders of the 1980’s for $200, Alex

ofDhGTdDear Boomers and Gen X’ers:

Are you as amazed, astonished and appalled as me at the sheer lack of knowledge on the part of our sons and daughters of virtually anything that transpired before the year 2005?

I know Millennials and their successors, the Gen Z’ers, have taken more punches than poor Muhammad Ali at the end of his career but, folks, the knowledge gap is widening to seismic proportions.

But, fear not, I have a solution.

Before sharing said remedy, though, I would like to submit three recent examples from my personal and professional lives that bear witness to my fear for our country’s future (i.e. “Those who have no knowledge of the mistakes of the past are doomed to repeat them”).

1.) Scene: family picnic. Players: a 20-something niece and this reporter. Conversation:

Niece: “Hey Uncle Steve. We’re both left handed!”

Me: “I always knew we were both sinister.”

Blank expression. I had to explain the word sinister originated in the Middle Ages and was used to describe anyone born left-handed. Southpaws were considered unlucky and in league with the devil (both true in my case).

The newly-educated Millennial shrugged her shoulders and left to replenish her glass of pinot grigio.

2.) One of my daughter’s 20-something friends spied my heavily bandaged and badly ruptured quadriceps tendon, and asked what had happened.

I told her my ever-jealous business partner had pulled a ‘Tonya Harding’ on me.

Blank expression. I told her to Google Tanya Harding, Nancy Kerrigan and Olympics, and report back to me. Minutes later, she ran up to me and said, “OMG, Wikipedia says that, next to the OJ Simpson thing, Tanya Harding was the biggest news story of 1994!”

3.) We were brainstorming for a new business pitch when the subject of famous husband-and-wife teams came up. A Millennial participant said, “What about that GE guy and his wife who are always on cable TV fighting about politics?”

I told him he’d confused Jack and Suzy Welch with James Carville and Mary Matalin. To which the Millennial nodded and said, “Oh, right, Carville and Matalin are executives working for the prospect, correct?”

While I’ve changed the names and slightly altered the scenarios to protect the innocent, the stories are true.

We have an entire generation of lost souls about to take the helm of business and industry who have virtually no idea about the who, what, when, where, why or how of the world that existed before they extricated themselves from their video games and began non-stop texting.

There are obviously exceptions to the rule but, in my opinion, this is a generational pandemic.

But, as noted, I have a solution I’m about to implement at my firm: Business Jeopardy. That’s right, I’m ripping off the show’s creators in a desperate attempt to educate the troops.

I’m planning five, one-hour workshops. Each will focus on a particular decade (a la the outstanding CNN series) and each will feature categories relevant to my firm: business-to-business, industrial, consumer and marketing communications in general.

We’ll create a Jeopardy-like board and ask that all answers be in the form of a question.

So, for example, in the 1980’s Business Jeopardy workshop, one answer in the business category might be Ivan Boesky.

In the 1970’s workshop, an answer in the consumer category might be Gerald R. Ford (that one’s for you, Grand Rapids). Another answer in the 1970s business category might be Bhopal, India.

We plan on maximizing attendance by handing out Amex gift certificates to the winners of each decade, and then host a tournament of champions whose winner might receive, dare I suggest it, a DVD of the complete CNN series about the various decades.

Regardless of who wins what, it’s my belief the entire firm will benefit (as will each and every participant).

In the meantime, I must close by providing you with the answer to the contestant request in the headline. The answer is: Steve Cody. The correct question? “What was the single biggest hiring mistake made by H&K in the 1980s?”

“You control the board.”

 

 

 

Sep 08

The Babe Ruth of the Back Office

leeWhat do Weber-Shandwick, F-H, Makovsky, M. Booth and, yes, Peppercomm, have in common?

They’re hugely successful strategic communications firms whose prowess is directly connected to the strength and performance of their back office functions.

Show me a PR firm with a weak CFO, office manager or personnel director, and I’ll show you an agency that isn’t winning new clients, growing profits or attracting and retaining great people.

 

Caste System

Alas, back office workers are often treated in much the same way as the Untouchables in India’s Caste System. They’re literally invisible, are rarely mentioned in internal memos and NEVER included in those already suspect best workplace tales that PR Week likes to spin.

But, that’s not the case at my firm.

If an office manager hall of fame were to be created, I’d make sure Peppercomm’s Lee Stechmann would be among the first class to be elected (He’s the Babe Ruth of the Back Office).

Making the case for Lee

To begin with, Lee is arguably our best writer. His daily, and weekly, updates are equal parts Dostoyevsky and Louis CK.

Case in point: Every Friday, Lee reminds employees on our two floors in the New York office to remove their food from the fridge, place empty plates in the dishwasher and dispose of any refuse in the general kitchen area.

On one particular Friday, he added a note to help those who might be in need of extra grease to clean their silverware. It read, “You’ll find Dawn underneath the fifth floor kitchen sink.”

Good lord! I was aghast and immediately responded with an agency- wide memo asking why Lee had put poor Dawn under the sink, and how long he intended to keep her there.

To his credit, Stechmann issued an immediate clarification that read like  a police bulletin and assured employees that Dawn was NOT an underachieving employee being punished for her transgressions but, rather, a dish washing detergent.

That said, Dawn’s plight is still considered an unsolved mystery at Peppercomm and the fifth floor sink is still roped off with yellow crime scene tape.

Above and beyond

But, it isn’t Lee’s flair with the pen that elevates him to Greek god status on the Mount Olympus of clean-up.

Rather, it’s his random acts of love and kindness that truly set the man apart. To wit:

Our building (like every Manhattan office) plays host to occasional visits from small, furry creatures. Rather than declare war on them, though, Lee extends an olive branch. Peppercomm’s Sarah Sanzari recalls spotting Lee on a Saturday morning carefully plucking tiny mice from the glue traps in which they’d been snared, cleaning them up, rehabilitating them, and freeing them outside the building. Holy Saint Francis of Assisi, Batman!

Adam Giambattista, another Peppercommer, says Lee never bothers to ask when he spies AG lugging two heavy boxes up the staircase connecting our fifth and sixth floors. He’ll simply grab one and carry it himself.

And, Nicole Newby says she’ll often discuss her love of cats with Lee, who provides shelter in his garage during the winter for homeless felines.  Now, you tell me: How many office managers in this world will shower cats and mice alike with equal amounts of affection?

Lee’s true piece d’resistance, though,  occurred about five years ago when one of his beloved little fellow’s passed away of natural causes (a fact later confirmed by a coroner’s report).

As you’ll see in the accompanying photograph, Lee built a tiny coffin for his deceased office mate and adorned it with laurel wreaths (or, reasonable facsimiles thereof).

In honor of our fallen comrpepper-mouse.ade (and Lee’s quick/thinking craftsmanship), we observed an agency-wide moment of silence before Stechmann tossed the carcass down the garbage chute.

Great people make for great workplaces. And, those great people aren’t limited to the ones with fancy titles and high-profile digital footprints. They include top professionals such as Lee Stechmann without whom, I think it’s safe to say, Peppercomm wouldn’t be Peppercomm.

And, what higher honor can a business bestow on a single individual than to annually name him their unofficial Most Valuable Player year-in and year-out? Lee is given that honor at every year’s offsite retreat (I don’t give him anything. I just tell Lee he’s our most important employee. Maybe I should give him something, huh?).

I also have no doubt that Lee’s quiet excellence has played a key part in our having won virtually every Fortune Magazine award for great cultures.

I’m sure Burson, Mitchell, Marina Maher and other top firms have their back office heroes but, trust me, none shine brighter than our very own Lee Stechmann.

Sep 06

Legally Legal

14126124620_5534159341_bPeppercomm observes its 21st anniversary today and, at long last, we are now able to both fight for our country and drink alcohol in all 50 states and Guam. (Note: Guam is my favorite US protectorate).

Rather than regale you with my 21 top memories, I thought I’d reprise the one posted the day we began our 19th.

The only two, new items I’d add are:

– Photoshopping Ed’s head on the body of a scantily-clad David Beckham and placing the framed result right alongside Ed’s phone. To his credit, Ed continues to proudly display the Moed/Beckham composite in his office.

– The amazing internal e-mails that Office Manager Par Excellence Lee Stechmann routinely sends to our staff. I intend to devote a blog shining the spotlight on Lee later this week, but suffice it to his say his e-mails combine the clear, crisp conciseness of a Hemingway sentence with the whacky, unpredictable prose of the late Robin Williams.

So step back and smell the roses that go along with surviving for 21 years in a field that is brutally tough, intensely competitive and whose leading trade publication takes great pains to completely ignore your existence.

Viva Peppercomm!

And here is “Hey Nineteen” from 2013:

This week marks Peppercomm’s 18th anniversary, and the beginning of our 19th year in business. So, without further ado, here’s my list of the 19 most memorable moments in agency history (good, bad and otherwise):

1.) I win my very first battle with Ed, and the firm is named after my black lab, Pepper. The name immediately separates us from our mostly eponymous competitors and strikes a chord with canine-loving prospects everywhere.

2.) Gary Sullivan of business insurance giant, Alexander & Alexander, says he has a “good feeling” about Ed and me, and becomes our first “blue chip” client.

3.) Steelcase hires us to introduce the Leap office chair. Some 15 years later we remain their agency of record.

4.) Julie Farin and Larry Thomas retain us to represent Money Talks, a personal finance site. We win our first Silver Anvil, the Oscar of public relations.

5.) Valerie Di Maria rolls the dice, and hires Peppercomm as GE Capital’s agency of record. That, in turn, leads to an introduction to GE Corporate and our subsequent launching of the multinational’s ‘Imagination at work’ campaign.

6.) In the dotcom era’s waning days, we create PartnershipCentral, an online destination that, at its peak, had 26 full-time staffers. P’Central closes when the bubble bursts. It was a bad day at black rock, to say the least.

7.) A Drew University intern is fired in her first week of work when, after I ask the status of a research assignment, she responds by saying, ‘Sorry, dude. I guess I just flaked.’

8.) A Northeastern University intern barely keeps her job despite twice flipping Ed the bird at a holiday party.

9.) In 2006, Peppercomm hits the trifecta as two industry trade publications name us agency of the year, and a third names us most innovative.

10.) In that very same year, Peppercomm hits its biggest speed bump ever when two Fortune 500 clients promise us multi-million dollar budgets. We staff up accordingly, and then neither guy so much as spends a dime with us.

11.) We’re hired on the spot by Whirlpool’s Audrey Reed-Granger as we wrap-up our new business presentation on a Friday afternoon in Benton Harbor, Michigan. We’d have the privilege of serving WP for the next seven years.

12.) We make perhaps the worst new business pitch in agency history when, in the midst of presenting to a company called BraunAbility, we somehow manage to show slides of their direct competitor’s product. That one still hurts.

13.) We create the Uncorporate Challenge Race, Peppercomm’s answer to the JP Morgan Chase Corporate Challenge (and yet another example of our belief in taking the road less traveled).

14.) We begin incorporating stand-up comedy training as part of the agency’s management development. MSNBC subsequently airs an eight-minute segment that attracts clients et voila, a new service offering is born.

15.) We fire a foul-mouthed, high profile CEO for his abusive ways. He responds to me with an e-mail, declaring: “This is complete and utter bullshit.” The phrase becomes legendary in Peppercomm vernacular (right alongside ‘I found your presentation both glib and superficial.’).

16.) We create Brand Squared (licensing), acquire H20 (a creative digital shop) and invest in Flagship (a London-based consultancy). The firm evolves from providing traditional PR to a more holistic mix of strategic integrated communications.

17.) Crain’s New York Business names Peppercomm New York’s top workplace. We beat 930 other organizations, including Microsoft and New York Life, to earn what remains our most prized award.

18.) MINI Cooper names Peppercomm AOR and the firm enters the highly coveted (and uber competitive) automotive category.

19.) To be announced later this week.

Sep 01

A tale of two lies

Image result for fairy talesOnce upon a time, there was a great big, evil executive search firm that, coincidentally, was in search of PR representation.

And so, they invited three agencies to pitch their business, one of whom was a humble, midsized firm with, perhaps, 100 souls in three offices: New York, London and San Francisco (That would be us, kids).

While the midsized firm was flattered to have been invited to meet with the great, big evil executive search firm, they worried about their lack of a global footprint (Kids: global footprint is one of those nauseating business terms that has unfortunately entered the lexicon).

Anyway, the big executive search firm said not to worry. They were solely interested in smart, strategic representation in the States.

So, the humble midsized player submitted a proposal that caused great glee among the big, bad search consultant decision-makers. They loved it, they said. And, they invited us to visit their galactic headquarters and walk them through our plan. And, that’s when the clouds covered the sun and the evil empire struck.

“Tell us about your boots on the ground in places such as Germany, Poland and the Low Countries,” demanded one marketing officer. “Yes, and tell us how you’ve handled identical assignments in, say, Russia and Ukraine,” hissed another.

We exchanged panicked looks with the woman who had assured us a global footprint was immaterial to the evil search firm’s decision. Predictably, she looked away (Kids: Lots of adults won’t look you in the eye when you’ve caught them in a bald-faced lie).

A few days later, we were told that Burson-Marstellar, with its 4,514 global offices, had been chosen instead.

Now, children, let’s fast forward and time travel to early August of this year.

The very same great, big evil executive search firm called us again!

They said they had two new projects that were strictly limited to the states, knew they’d made a mistake in their agency selection last time and would only be seeing a few firms “of our size.”

Wary, but salivating at the size of the prospective budgets (Money talks, kids), the innocent PR firm fell for the very same trap.

We poured hours and hours into developing creative ideas, submitted them in a handsomely bound packet and were invited to pay a visit to the empire’s Chicago office to present the plan.

Ah, but just days before the meeting, the evil executive search firm’s lead marketer had sent us a casual note that read, “Oh, and by the way, be prepared to address your capabilities in China.”

Needless to say, this nasty, nauseating and nonsensical last-second curveball caused great consternation in the agency’s hallways.

These guys had lied to us once before and now, at the last second, it appeared they were about to double down.

But, one of our brave leaders stood tall and said, “No. No, we shall not journey to Chicago unless I first speak to these evil marketers and tell them we will bow out now if the dreaded global footprint is, in fact, critical to their needs.”

And, lo, the naive PR firm took the bait (“Of course we’re not looking for a global firm, or a firm with a presence in China. We’re just curious to know if you’ve ever handled client events there,” said the oh-so-pleasant marketer in an-oh-so-pleasant tone.)

So, it was on to Chicago and let’s win there (Kids: Those were the final public words spoken by the late Senator Robert F. Kennedy. He was President Kennedy’s younger brother and, sadly, like Jack, was also assassinated).

Anyway, our video-conferenced team (half of us went to Chicago. The others stayed at home in The Apple) was whipping through the presentation and receiving lots of ooohs and aaaahs from the search firm marketers. Then, all of a sudden, the evil CMO (who had arrived 20 minutes late and was Skyping in from Dallas) spoke up and said, “What about key international markets. How would you handle managing the news from these U.S. events in, say, Beijing?”

Uh oh, thought I. Here we go again.

But, our heroic, on-site team leader handled the goal question flawlessly and the meeting moved on to a successful conclusion. In fact, the NYC representative of the evil search firm told me, “You killed it and ran rings around the other agencies. I’d like a scope of work on Monday.”

Wow.

So, we followed up on Monday with a few questions in order to properly create the scope. We received a terse note back that read, “Let’s hold off on that until we’ve had a chance to meet with the other agencies.”

Say what? The evil search people had just said we’d crushed the other agencies. So, how could there be another batch of other agencies? And, they said they were champing at the bit to begin with us. So, why the delay? These were perplexing thoughts, kids.

And, so began the requisite two-week period of total radio silence that, while it sounds oh-so-quiet speaks oh-so-loudly.

Then it arrived. The dreaded “Dear Agency” letter (Kids: Losing firms in every new business pitch receive Dear Agency letters that extol their energy, enthusiasm and creativity but, then, quickly move on to say that, alas, the evil prospect has “gone in another direction” and selected a different firm.) Gone in another direction is just one more of those hated business expressions that will one day make you cringe the way it does me.

In this case, we were told the winner had come up with a stronger theme and, yup, you guessed it, had stronger GLOBAL capabilities.

So, kids, be advised: While you will meet many people in business who will say one thing to your face and then do something entirely different behind your back, it’s rare to find one so devious and  so deceptive as to do it twice within the space of 36 months.

I’d like to believe that Edward Bernays, Ivy Lee and Arthur W. Page have set aside a special place in PR hell for true villains such as these great big, evil executive search types. (Kids: Those three gentlemen are considered the founding fathers of modern PR). If so, their punishment should be a trip through eternity retracing the exact same global footprint day after day after day.

Aug 30

I’ll drink to that

Image result for wine vs. beer

A newly-released survey from the Wine Market Council says there are now more Millennials than Boomers drinking wine (36 percent vs 34 percent). Holy vino, Batman!

This fact came as a bit of a shocker to me since my Boomer buds pride themselves on their ability to down three or more bottles of wine at a dinner outing and still drive home safely afterwards. Turns out my peer group are slackers compared to their kids. Millennials are absolute animals!

Beth Bloom, senior food and drink analyst at Mintel (and, how cool is that job title?), says 49 percent of Millennials report the wine they drink says a lot about them (vs only 36 percent of the general population). That certainly holds true with me. I’ll down anything that’s cold.

Millennials also embrace wines that appeal specifically to their lifestyles (or define them as they see themselves).

For example, there’s an absolutely gross-looking vino called ManCan which, you guessed it, comes in a beer can and appeals to soccer dads. No way you’d catch this Boomer tossing back some fine Pinot Grigio in a can that could easily be mistaken for Bud Light.

Intent on taking a longer sip (and dip) into the Millennial wine craze, I turned to my agency’s 20-somethings. I wanted to know if they drank as much wine as the survey would suggest, and also whether they preferred wine over beer.

Kristin Davie confirmed both the results, and the trend among Millennials to choose a wine that defined them:

“Influencers are key to driving Millennials’s decision-making. There’s a popular social media influencer called The Fat Jew, who created his own wine, White Girl Rose. Hoboken liquor stores could barely keep the shelves stocked when it made its debut (Note to readers living outside the tri-state area: Hoboken is to Millennials as Boca Raton is to the geriatric set).

Davie went on to add that a leading star of the TV series, “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”, released his own pinot noir (that just happened to have a recurring role in the series. Clever these marketers). It, too, became enormously successful.

OK, got it. You guys (as you guys like to say) like to drink what your heroes suggest you drink. But, what about wine vs. beer? Which do Millennials prefer? Well, if Peppercommers are any indicator, the answer is, “Depends.”

Two chose wine hands down (or bottoms up). But, two others say they opted for beer since “….it’s delicious and I know a whole lot more about it.”

The vast majority, however, went in the opposite direction, saying their alcoholic drink of choice was dictated by the social circumstances of the moment (i.e. They’ll demurely sip a glass of wine when partying with the ladies or quaff a brew if watching a football game with the crew).

Another cohort went strictly with the hard stuff. “I like vodka. It has less calories. But, when I do drink wine, I choose red since that’s what the ill-fated British Queen, Ann Boleyn, drank to create a natural flush in her cheeks.” Makes sense to me.

One Peppercomm Millennial opts for whiskey first and wine second, saying of the latter: “There’s so much more variety (than beer). It matches well with so many different foods, it can be served cold or at room temperature and it can be spicy or sweet.” Hard to argue those points.

I must say drinking in the wine info from the brim to the dregs got me thinking about the good, old Wine Market Council.

While I’m sure they’re thrilled to see a younger generation embrace their beverage, they shouldn’t be so quick to dismiss Boomers. I know I’d be the first on my block to buy a case of Joe Willie Namath sauvignon blanc. (Select Reserve. Vintage: January 12, 1969).