I’d rename it ‘The Dirty Laundry Report’

DELANEY-REPORTjpgThe Delaney Report has been covering the advertising and media worlds for eons. It's the  prototypical gossip sheet that's jam-packed with the inside scoop on:

– Accounts that might be in play
– Executives who are screwing up
– Agencies that are losing people in droves. 

It should really be called The Dirty Laundry Report.

Sure, TDR provides some great one-on-one interviews with CEOs and CMOS and is a MUST for any agency's rainmaker, but the publication's real essence resides in its snarkiness. It revels in sleaze and scandal, while embracing their ugly cousins, failure and fear.

Every three months, for example, the newsletter hands out awards to the best and worst performers of the previous quarters. Read what it has to say about some of last quarter's worsts:

– “Worst Marketer: William Weldon, chairman/CEO of Johnson & Johnson. For his lackadaisical attitude and approach in handling the company's product recall embarrassment. For allowing the reputation of a company long known for its high standards of ethical business policies to suffer. For a lack of tough managerial decision making when it was most needed. For letting employees lose faith in their employer.” Wow. That is just brutal. I'm surprised Weldon wasn't accused of treason as well.

– 'Worst Advertising Agency. Arnold Worldwide. For failing to solve the client defection problem as computer seller Dell Inc. and beverage marketer Dr. Pepper Snapple Group recently pull ad assignments from the agency. For allowing clients MetLife and Accenture to go into review. For inconsistent creative. Blame falls on the agency's chairman/CEO Hamish McLennan, creative boss Tony Granger.' Phew! How'd you like to be an Arnold employee and have to deal with that sort of mudslinging? Imagine what Arnold's clients must think? And the 'award' certainly won't be listed on either McLennan's or Granger's CV.

– “Worst Publication. Monthly magazine Reader's Digest. For inconsistent editorial that changes with the editor-in-chief of the moment. For a poor performance on the ad-page front and a continued plunge in circulation. Blame falls on Mart Berner, the CEO of the magazine's parent Reader's Digest Association.” I want to go to the nearest newsstand and pick up a copy. And, if I were an aspiring journalist or space salesman, I'd be e-mailing my resume as we speak. Not!

And, therein lies my fundamental issue with TDR. They don't just report news. They hurt people's careers and damage the image and reputation of all sorts of organizations in the name of journalism. I'm sure they see themselves as performing a valuable reader service, but I see their product as mean spirited and vindictive.

I majored in journalism in college, held jobs in three different newsrooms and had an offer to work full time at CBS Radio. I wanted no part of it. I couldn't take the non-stop negative news cycle or the jaded cynicism of reporters. And, I didn't enjoy reporting on someone else's misery and misfortune.

I've been known to take a shot or two at a misbehaving former client or prospect, but I would never purposely hurt someone's image and livelihood (and do it 48 times each and every year, thank you very much).

In my book, airing someone else's dirty laundry is akin to playing dirty pool. I wonder how TDR would fare if someone turned the investigative spotlight on them? More to the point, I wonder how they'd like it?

6 thoughts on “I’d rename it ‘The Dirty Laundry Report’

  1. Thanks for the heads-up, Bomberpete. I hadn’t heard of autoextremist.com until now, but will make a point of checking it out. I wonder if Tom Delaney and Peter DeLorenzo know of one another’s existence? Sounds like the two could create a mega hate sheet if they ever merged their mutual rags.

  2. In the auto industry, the closest equivalent to Delaney is probably Peter DeLorenzo of Autoextremist.com. His weekly opinionated “rants” angrily bash anyone he has an axe to grind with.
    Typically, that’s everyone in Detroit, southern California, Stuttgart, Munich, Seoul and Tokyo except longtime close friends or those with whom there’s a consulting arrangement currently in place.
    “Sweet Pete” as he’s called without affection, is an ex-GM ad agency vet who soured on the car business and the “idiots and empty suits” who run it years ago. While Autoextremist was a breath of fresh air when it started out in the late Nineties — even Bill Ford called it honest – its level of bile has become really unpleasant lately.
    What caused me to finally tune it out a few weeks ago is a hatchet takedown and repeated hammering of Obama’s former Team Auto head, Steve Rattner, without even bothering to read Rattner’s book “Overhaul.” Rattner is currently barred from the securities industry over a pay-for-play deal, but his Treasury work did save the industry DeLorenzo professes to love, and thousands of jobs.
    In addition to kicking someone in the head when they’re down, Sweet Pete is apparently stewing that Rattner got a sweet publishing deal and he didn’t. For that, he blames the Lefty East Coast Media Intelligentsia for not wanting to listen to him. Why? Because it’s filled with Green Eco-Weenies like Rattner (an ex-New York Times reporter) who couldn’t tell a camshaft from a clutch. Those are terms he uses, not me.
    Autoextremist has no comments section. Perhaps it’s because DeLorenzo thinks most of his readers (including me, full disclosure) are morons whose opinions are valueless. There are weekly letters, but they are always from the same people and of the fawning variety. It’s kind of ironic, since that attitude has just about killed the U.S. car business.
    Check it out some time, see if you agree.

  3. Thanks Max. TDR’s one-way dialogue flies in the face of modern communication and is akin to the schoolyard bully picking on the weak and defenseless. That’s no way to run a business or live one’s life.

  4. Funny, we’re supposedly in the age of transparency. Attack journalism with no recourse or rebuttal doesn’t fit, if it ever really did.

  5. I have no problem with Delaney stating his opinions about best and worst execs. On a more fundamental level, he plays an unfair game. He doesn’t publish letters to the editor and would not (at least as of several years ago) do in-person meetings. After he reported about four years ago that a certain CEO of a company I know was “on the way out,” I canceled my sub. That CEO is still at the same company. Do you suppose I could get a correction from Delaney today? Perhaps when pigs fly. When more people vote with their checkbooks and deny him support, he will go away.