Bill, baby, bill

Hatred unites America. Think about it. We hated Japan after Pearl Harbor. We hated bin Laden
PA-9051085 in the aftermath of 9/11. And, boy oh boy, do we sure hate BP’s Tony Hayward after this past weekend’s YachtingGate. In fact, a quick perusal of Sunday-morning talk shows revealed consensus among right and left-wing pundits, politicos and poseurs alike. Each and every ‘expert’ agreed the Isle of Wight sail put the proverbial final nail in Hayward’s BP career. And, each and every expert alike opined that Hayward’s malaprops, misdeeds and maladroit management precluded a ‘second career’ as a PR counselor. Wrong!

Give it a year or two, and I guarantee Mr. Hayward will be working for either the world’s largest, independent public relations firm or one of the scores of lookalike holding company PR firms.  Why? There’s a variety of reasons:

1.) Big agencies absolutely fawn over ex-CEOs, governors, White House press secretaries, senators, or heads of the EPA, DEP or Homeland Security, respectively. Why? Because their names attract deep-pocketed, multinational clients like bees to honey.

2.) “The rich are not like you and me,” wrote F. Scott Fitzgerald. Neither are the uber-powerful. They move in rarified circles not open to mere mortals like you and me. Hayward’s Rolodex alone is worth millions of dollars.
3.) Hayward’s Rolodex = Access. And, access equals power in Washington, D.C., New York and elsewhere. Hayward can open doors with a single e-mail or phone call.
4.) Large agencies can bill Hayward’s time at unconscionably outrageous hourly rates. Hayward = profits for cash-starved large agencies.

I can even visualize Mr. Hayward’s business card in my mind. It will read: ‘Tony Hayward. Energy sector/sustainability strategist.’

And, despite his horrific performance in the current disaster, boards of directors will nonetheless line up to retain Hayward’s counsel. Why? Because, in a year or so, Hayward will have penned his autobiography (suggested working titles; “I Wanted My Life Back” or ‘The Gulf Is a Big Ocean’). He’ll have made the rounds of the talk shows, professing sincere regret for his mistakes, explaining how his forced retirement provided a much-needed respite for soul-searching and introspection and, (and, this is the game-changer) that he now wants to share what’s he learned with businesspeople and politicians around the world so they don’t make the same mistakes he did. It’s absolutely brilliant. And, I guarantee he’s already formulated the strategy.

So, please, Argentina, don’t cry for Tony. His future is as bright as the Gulf waters are murky. And his wallet will be as green as the Gulf waters are black. Tony Baloney may be a phony. But, he’ll be a very well-compensated big PR agency phony soon enough.

5 thoughts on “Bill, baby, bill

  1. No one said life would be fair, Lia. I was discussing this very issue the other night at dinner. The subject of horrific CEOs came up and we all agreed that one CEO in particular is in a class of his own. He’s not only routinely ranked as one of the country’s worst CEOs. But, somehow, some way, he always ends up getting canned by one corporation and then hired by another one for even more money.

  2. I’ll wait with baited breath. I guess I’m just tired of watching people so obviously without intuition – or even good sense – get hired for these high-paying jobs in our industry. Especially when I know – and work with – such smart, capable, high-level folks who could only hope to earn a fraction of that salary. I know that’s the way the world works now, but it just makes me sad.

  3. All valid points, Lia. He’s untouchable now. But, a born-again Tony Hayward who’s learned his lessons, written a best-selling book and can counsel other high-level CEOs would command a pretty penny. America loves to build someone up, tear him or her down and then watch them bounce back. Many self-help experts are, in fact, people who’ve pulled themselves up by the bootstraps and built million-dollar franchises. Assuming he rehabilitates himself down the road, Tony Baloney would be bank.

  4. I don’t know, Steve. I agree with you 99 percent of the time, but I find it hard to believe that any PR firm would be so dumb as to bring on board Tony Hayward. No amount of media mea culpa’s could ever disguise – or make the public forget- his embarrassing lack of intelligence or intuition in handling BP’s reputation during this crisis. To hire him on in any capacity would be professional suicide. If it’s simply his Rolodex they’d be after – they could buy it under the table. Even so, I doubt very much that anyone in that Rolodex will be jumping to associate themselves with Mr. Hayward anytime in the near future.