Nov 18

Jim Morrison’s still lighting fires after all these years

51035SWwRmL._SL500_AA300_ I was heartened to read that Governor Charlie Crist of Florida is pursuing a posthumous pardon  for two criminal convictions handed down to the legendary Jim Morrison of the Doors after some questionable stage behavior at a 1969 Miami concert. (Jim Morrison Is Candidate for Pardon in ’69 Arrest)

Having researched the court ruling, Crist says, “The more that I've read about the case and the more I get briefed on it, the more convinced I am that maybe an injustice has been done here.” How about that? We still have one politician who can read and who actually wants to do the right thing.

Naturally, though, right-wing, god-fearing conservatives, vehemently disagree with Crist. And the resulting debate has sparked a mini Florida firestorm that would no doubt amuse the man who sang, 'Light My Fire.'

Claude Kirk, Florida's governor at the time Morrison was convicted on misdemeanor charges of profanity and indecent exposure, was annoyed to be asked by the Times reporter about Governor Crist's efforts on Morrison's behalf. “There's a lot more important things to think about than that,” he sniffed. Well, yes, but if Richard M. Nixon can receive a full pardon for ordering and then covering up the Watergate break-in, why can't Jimbo catch a break?

Adding insult to injury, Florida's state attorney of Miami-Dade County, Katherine Fernandez Rundle, huffed: “It's not worth the time.” Nice. I'll bet Morrison wouldn't love her madly or two times, for that matter.

I see the Morrison conflagration as yet another example of our country's acute polarization. Bible-thumping Tea Party types view Morrison (and his liberal, left-leaning successors) as the epitome of evil. The latter, meanwhile, would like to right a past wrong and allow Morrison's name (if not his spirit) to rest in peace.

If former New York governor George Pataki could pardon Lenny Bruce and former Enron chairman Ken Lay's conviction can be annulled, why can't Florida do right by Morrison? As Jim sang, people are strange (and are becoming even stranger every day).

Although my vote doesn't count, here's hoping Crist can 'break on through' and get Morrison's minor offenses expunged after all these years. It would certainly give new meaning to one of my favorite Doors' songs: 'The End.'

Oct 21

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?

Oct 18

Wipe the Crumbs Off Your Face or Admit You Ate the Cookie

Today's guest post is by Emily Simmons, a graduate student in communications at the College of Charleston.

He’s famously known as the SEC basketball coach who painted his chest orange in support of the Lady Vols and the first head coach to lead the Volunteers to a #1 national ranking.  Bruce Pearl Ncaa06_mp_t607 led his team into the Elite 8 during the 2010 Men’s NCAA Tournament, the only time in the university’s history.  Now he is the man barely holding on to his job and what’s left of his pride. 

On Sept. 10, Pearl spoke the words that an 'Orange Nation' hoped were not true.  He not only violated recruitment violations, but he lied to NCAA officials during interviews in June.  Although Pearl doesn’t directly admit lying to authorities, he describes his violations as “misleading information.” 

According to the NCAA, Pearl exceeded regulations set for the amount of phone calls coaching staff was allowed to make to recruits.  He is also accused of allowing recruits and their families to extend visits over the 48 hours allotted to a recruit, with each visit being paid for by University of Tennessee’s Athletic Department.  Following his June meeting with NCAA investigators, Pearl reportedly met with UT Athletic Director Mike Hamilton to fess up.  Why then was it not until September that he came clean to the public?

The old saying that a picture speaks a thousand words may be the reason why he kept his mouth shut for a few months.  The NCAA obtained a photo of three prospective recruits in Pearl’s home, catching him with his hand in the cookie jar.  NCAA regulations state that high school juniors are not allowed contact with coaching staff off campus.  Following the photo leak, the coach held a press conference during which he shed a few dry tears and choked over his words while apologizing to his family, the NCAA, his staff, Tennessee fans and of course, his players and recruits.  He admitted to violating NCAA regulations and misleading authorities during their investigation.  But, did he really admit that he was the one who stole the cookie?

He confesses that while he blatantly disregarded national rules, he was only sorry for lying about them afterwards.  Pearl vows to cooperate fully during the continuation of the investigation, but he and his staff have failed to answer any further questions from the media.  While he claims he “learned it’s not ok to tell the truth most of the time, it’s ok to tell the truth all the time,” his lack of transparency during this investigation leaves fans and professionals following the case wondering whether one apology is enough.  Does Pearl need more open communication to stop his fall from grace?

With preparations for the 2011 recruiting season well underway, the UT coach and his staff will have little time to convince these recruits that the Orange Nation is the place for them due to UT’s self-imposed sanctions as corrective action following their violations.  Tennessee has reduced the number of days allotted to recruit from 130 to 104 days.  Official recruit visits will be limited to eight days rather than 12, and it can be certain that Pearl will only allow recruits to stay for their given 48 hours.  The head coach was suspended from recruiting calls for nine days, and his Associate Head Coach Tony Jones will not be charging long-distance bills for the next three months.  In addition, he and his staff have received pay cuts and retention checks have been delayed for three years.

While the self-imposed sanctions are clearly an effort to lighten NCAA-imposed sanctions, it’s also a tactic that many are replicating in their own institution.  For example, on Oct. 8, University of Connecticut Head Coach Jim Calhoun announced violations of NCAA recruiting laws.  Their response?  Self-sanctions, of course.  UConn has placed the men’s basketball team on a two-year probation and taken away one scholarship for each of the probated seasons.  Sept. 27, AnnMarie Gilbert, Eastern Michigan women’s basketball coach, announced her one-month suspension following NCAA practice hours violations relating to the 2009-2010 Women’s Invitational Tournament.  While neither of these coaches has officially been punished by the NCAA, they have followed in Pearl’s footsteps in hopes that a few self-sanctions and slaps on the wrist will save their reputation and their programs.

The upcoming months will be the only way to evaluate these attempts to save not only university reputations, but the upcoming recruiting season as well.  Pearl self-proclaims that he is to “be an example for the NCAA,” but depending on the NCAA’s response, his role as an example could cost him his career and the future success of the UT Athletic Department.  Claiming three head football coaches in three seasons and one nationally scrutinized head basketball coach, Tennessee can only hope that these self-sanctions allow the university to become the phoenix and rise from the ashes.

Oct 14

“Get your free crisis counseling! Step right this way!”

You'd think by now this battle-tested veteran of the crisis wars would be able to distinguish X14241308 between a real and fictitious lead and, in the process, avoid giving away free advice. But, clearly, some remote part of my brain still clings to the belief that prospects will do what they say and deliver on their promises. Alas, such is not always the case.

Two recent examples prove my point:

– A month or so ago, the CEO of a family-owned business was referred to me. His organization was in deep trouble. A rival faction on his board was threatening to wrest control away from the man, ending what had been nearly a century-old love affair between the company and the CEO’s family.  Listening to his plight on the phone (replete with sobbing, BTW), I went into action over a weekend. Joined by a few other Peppercommers, we dug deep into the issues, developed a strategy and submitted a plan and budget. Then… radio silence. Eventually, the CEO resurfaced to say he didn't have the funds to retain us. Case closed. Time spent helping this guy? Fifteen hours. Monies collected: none.

 - More recently, the head of a firm whose work was at the epicenter of a global firestorm on the blogosphere was referred to me. As I'd done in the previous case, I listened as the executive lamented about the damage done to date, the very real possibility that customers would bolt and the need to do the right thing ASAP. Not understanding the nuances of crisis communications, the executive asked me to hypothesize various scenarios and possible strategies. We ended a lengthy conversation by agreeing to  speak again the following morning with the organization's other top leaders and begin implementing a rapid crisis response. Once again, the silence was deafening. Time spent counseling: 1.5 hours. Monies collected:  none.

My wife suggested I stop trusting prospects to pay for my time before a contract is actually signed. Instead, she counseled I say nothing until the proverbial check is in hand. She's right, of course. She's also a lot less trusting than me (which can be a good thing).

So, the next time the circus barker cries out, 'Get your crisis counseling! Step right this way!' the adjective 'free' will be noticeably absent from the proclamation.

Sep 22

When in doubt, blame others

Birds don't do it. Bees don't do it. But, big business sure does it. “It” is blaming others for one's Blame-game mistakes.

The latest example came a few days ago when my beloved, primary source of commutation, NJ Transit, blamed Amtrak for its record 1,400 delays this past summer.

Talk about the summer from hell. NJT experienced 1,400 delays in a period of 90 days! Now, I'm not a math wizard, but that adds up to a staggering 150 or so delays a day. I'm surprised any of their damn trains moved at all.

But, hey, don't blame NJT. It wasn't their fault. A lead spokesperson pointed the finger at Amtrak, from whom NJT leases 'track time' on the Northeast Corridor. He said that, since Amtrak has always been underfunded by the government and unable to keep pace with needed maintenance, NJT really isn't to blame for overheated 20-year-old locomotives, overhead wires that drooped in the heat and electric power interruptions. That's the business equivalent of a kid saying the dog ate his homework.

To add insult to injury, NJT also implemented an across-the-board fare hike this summer. That's akin to charging the Titanic passengers a surcharge for life jackets.

NJT officials certainly aren't alone when it comes to pointing fingers at others. BP has made it something of an art form. So, too, have Wall Street executives who shrugged their shoulders when the markets collapsed but happily continue to pocket record bonuses.

No one's better at obfuscation, though, than religious leaders. My favorite is Brother Harold Camping, a Bible expert who holds court on a national cable channel.

The 90-year-old, hearing impaired, former engineer sits in a dilapidated studio, holding a Bible and entertaining questions from viewers. But, whenever an above-average viewer stumps Brother Camping with one of the Bible's countless contradictions, he claims not to have heard or understood what was just asked. So, he thanks the viewer for her question and simply hangs up. It's hilarious to watch.

Recently, the self-proclaimed Bible authority was thrown a real caller curve: “Brother Camping,” said the caller, “please explain how the Bible preaches an eye for an eye in one section but advises us to turn the other cheek in another?” Brother Camping squinted at the camera, fidgeted in his chair and finally responded by saying, “Unless you can cite the specific passages, I can't answer. But, thank you for calling Open Forum.” Classic dodge.

Brother Camping has somehow added, multiplied, subtracted and divided various 'mathematical clues' in the bible and declared that May 22, 2011, will be the end of the world. About 15 years ago, he made a similar prediction. But, when the day came and went without an apocalyptic event, Brother Camping pulled an NJT (or, BP if you prefer) and blamed a faulty computer.

Isn't it great to be living in a society with no accountability? Hey, my train's delayed again! At least I know it's Amtrak's fault.

Sep 10

Would you have kept Peggy working late?

The most recent episode of AMC’s ‘Mad Men’ probed even deeper into the exceedingly dark side Office-window-sam of Don Draper (nee Dick Whitman).

In last Sunday’s episode, ad man extraordinaire Draper worked late into the night to develop new strategies for a Samsonite Luggage campaign. Not content to suffer alone, Don forces his creative aide de camp, Peggy, to work right alongside him. The endless evening ends up costing Peggy a surprise party thrown by her soon-to-be-erstwhile boyfriend (but draws her closer to Don in some very interesting ways).

I’ve never been a fan of making people stay late into the night. It’s abusive. It speaks poorly of the organization. And, it will eventually impact image and reputation.

That said, I’ve heard of more than one PR firm, especially those in the technology space, who suggest their employees leave the office at 6pm, gobble down a quick dinner and then return to complete their assignments. That’s brutal. I’ve heard of other firms that use the ‘West Coast’ excuse to keep East Coast employees working well past 8:30pm. That’s also bogus. And, then there are the corporate versions of Don Draper’s “keep ‘em late and make ‘em sweat” management style. In Jacked Up: The inside Story of How Jack Welch Talked GE into Becoming the World’s Greatest Company, author Bill Lane says the entire corporate office staff was afraid to leave for the day before their chief had. This was problematic since Mr. Welch seldom departed before 7pm. He knew others feared him, wouldn’t dare leave before he did and, either didn’t care about inconveniencing them or enjoyed the rush that went along with controlling other people’s lives.

We once had a mini version of Jack Welch working at our firm. This guy’s office was conveniently located right by the elevators. So, he’d naturally spy anyone who was skulking out while he was still slaving away. After hearing about the issue, we sat down with the executive (and his reports). We found that he tended to while away his time during normal working hours and, for whatever reason, didn’t really roll up his sleeves until late afternoon. As a result, he’d set meetings that began at 5 or 5:30, mete out assignments and then expect his direct reports to stay and finish their work before leaving. Rather than suffer a palace revolt (I’ve always believed that people quit people. They don’t quit businesses.), we had our strategy consultant work with the executive to help him better organize his day. We ended up keeping our people, but losing the executive to a corporate gig (which was a win-win in my book).

Because of the nature of our business, we still have people who, because of a client crisis or over servicing on our part, stay later than they should. When they do, we try to either intercede or, at the very least provide transportation home and compensatory time off. But, we’re far from perfect.

There are many different ways to manage an organization. Draper’s approach may work in the short-term, but I’ve rarely seen it work over the long haul (unless an employee completely defines himself by his work and thrives on a steady diet of 24×7). I can’t speak for Welch’s management style since I never experienced it first-hand. But, I know we don’t want executives who, intentionally or unintentionally, make their employees stay late. Life’s way too short (which I hope Don Draper figures out sooner rather than later).

Aug 30

Representing controversial clients is a slippery slope.

I’m a firm believer that, in the court of public opinion, a controversial client is innocent until Pat_robertson_devil_sign proven guilty. I also believe he or she deserves the very best representation possible. That said, some prospective clients are toxic and invite more trouble than they’re worth.

I’m reminded of the terrific image and reputation bashing inflicted on Hill & Knowlton in the early 1990s, when the firm decided to represent one highly controversial client after another. The carnage reached its apex (perhaps nadir is more appropriate) when Hill & Knowlton took on an image and awareness campaign for the government of Kuwait. Almost immediately afterwards, they were accused of ‘staging’ fake genocides to heighten worldwide distaste for Saddam Hussein’s Machiavellian machinations. It was an event that, whether true or not, inspired the Hollywood movie, ‘Wag the Dog’. H&K’s decision to represent a raft of highly controversial accounts precipitated a mass exodus of blue-chip clients (who didn’t want to be associated with a public relations firm that was caught in the crosshairs of negative news). The firm also lost top notch counselors, who disagreed with H&K’s stance on a moral and ethical basis.

As a proud alumnus of a kinder, gentler H&K, I’m pleased to see the firm has finally rebounded and reclaimed its rightful position as a top global player, but it took lots of blood, sweat and tears to execute the turnaround.

I mention all this because I see that 5W is representing Pat Robertson’s American Center for Law & Justice in its efforts to halt construction of the controversial Ground Zero mosque. As mentioned above, Mr. Robertson’s entity deserves the very best public relations support it can afford. But, at what cost to the firm? In its defense, 5W has never shied away from representing clients that most mainstream PR firms would avoid like the plague. But, does such representation jeopardize existing client relationships? Will it alienate employees who see the issue as a First Amendment right that has nothing whatsoever to do with public relations? Time will tell.

In our 15 years of business, we’ve tried to avoid highly controversial clients (falling prey only twice in my memory). Thankfully, neither relationship cost us clients or employees. In fact, with the latter, we were quite transparent and suggested that anyone with reservations could opt out of actual account work. Several took us up on the offer.

But, rather than place a firm in harm’s way, why choose to represent a potentially toxic client? The short-term gain in billings and notoriety will most certainly be offset by the long-term unease among clients and employees alike. As a former employer of mine liked to say, “It’s a classic lose-lose.”

Aug 27

Stealing My Heart

080402_i_left_my_heart-702731 The parallels between a love lost and a client lost can be strikingly similar. I was reminded of this  as I working out to the lyrics of an old Stones song called ‘Stealing My Heart.’ Some of the lines reminded me of the upcoming anniversary of our termination by what was, at the time, our second largest account. It had been a troubled, roller coaster-like relationship from day one (think Burton/Taylor, Brad/Jennifer or Tiger/Elin, if you prefer). It was also one of those relationships where, to paraphrase a Fleetwood Mac lyric, we were over our heads, but it sure felt nice.

Aside from money, prestige and the opportunity to play on a larger stage, I’m not sure why we engaged with this particular client. They’d had a history of churning agencies, were in the midst of a hostile takeover attempt and invited us into the pitch at the last second. But, the call of the siren was too strong and we succumbed, turning the agency upside down to develop smart creative, schedule the requisite rehearsals and prepare our various leave-behinds. The rehearsals were a disaster and I can distinctly remember Ed shaking his head the night before the presentation and predicting it would be a train wreck. But, aside from one member of our pitch team showing a competitor’s product in the midst of our presentation, the entire meeting was flawlessly executed.

Just like one does on a very special first date, we immediately felt the chemistry. There was love in the air. We knew we’d connected in a big way. And, sure enough, the call came asking for references (they were very concerned about a bait-and-switch since a large agency had just done that to them). Once we cleared the reference check, we were good to go and, just like that, we’d added $1 million to our billings (which is a big deal when your annual billings are $14 million).

And, as is the case with almost every relationship, the first few months were a love fest. We adored them. They thought we walked on water. The birds were chirping. And, the sun was shining. But, then came the storm clouds. The CMO who’d hired us left. A new global head of public relations was hired and refused to meet with us for months. And, a pit bull of a direct report was switched to our part of the business. His mission in life seemed to be to berate and belittle our team. If the first six months had resembled ‘Romeo & Juliet,’ the final six felt more like ‘Kramer v. Kramer’.

I was eventually summoned to the client’s Manhattan office and told he wanted “to dial down the relationship.” I need to try that line sometime. It’s so vague that I wasn’t 100 percent sure we were being fired. But, we were. And the million dollar sweetheart left just as quickly and unexpectedly as it had arrived.

Mick and Keith nailed the whole relationship thing when they wrote, “I thought you were dinner, but you were the shark.”  Man, this particular client was a Great White shark, and it left us bloodied and battered for quite some time.

Older, and hopefully a little wiser when it comes to mega accounts that suddenly want to start dating, I’d like to think we’d follow another bit of advice from ‘Stealing My Heart’: “When love’s on the menu, I don’t drink so deep.” Some more due diligence would have saved us a lot of pain and suffering.

Jul 22

RepMan’s Recommended Readings

Every now and then, I come across a book that alters my point of view on a subject or provides
Reading-a-book-on-the-bea-001 fresh thinking that stops me dead in my tracks. When those seminal events occur, I like to share what I’ve stumbled upon with others. And, in this case, all three recommended readings touch on image and reputation in some way, shape or form. So, drum roll please, here are three recommended reads for your summer pleasure:

1.)    “The God Delusion” by Richard Dawkins. Regardless of your religious persuasions and beliefs, you owe it to yourself to read Dawkins’ treatise on creationism vs. evolution. He explores both the Old Testament and New Testament as well as the Koran, the writings of Confucius and every other latter-day spin-off (think Joseph Smith, Sun Myung Moon, etc.) In the text, Dawkins argues very convincingly that there is no afterlife. Dawkins doesn’t see atheism as a downer however but, rather, as a reason to live a fuller, richer life and to make the most of the precious time we have here on earth. The book is also chock full of amazing quotes, such as this one from Emily Dickinson: “That it will never come again is what makes life so sweet.” The book also contains a fascinating chapter on Stalin and Hitler, and the possibility that the latter’s Catholic upbringing may have planted the original anti-Semitic views in his mind.

2.)    “The Art of Racing in the Rain” by Garth Stein. This is a MUST read for any animal lover in general and dog lover in particular. In my humble opinion, it runs rings around “Marley and Me”. The beauty of this book is that it’s written entirely from the dog’s, Enzo’s, point of view. In doing so, it provides some surprisingly insightful views on human behavior. “Art” also contains more plot twists and turns than a Formula One racing course but sadly, like Marley, ends with Enzo’s demise. Surprise, surprise, though, there’s a very cool epilogue that will leave you panting for more.

3.)    "100 Bullshit Jobs… and How to Get Them" by Stanley Bing. I love anything Bing writes. This 2006 handbook on the 100 easiest jobs in the world is a laugh out loud page turner. Bing skewers every occupation from personal publicist and media trainer to industrial psychologist and Tarot card reader. In the process, he ‘ranks’ the bullshit level of each job from 1-200 (with 200 being attained only by Donald Trump who, Bing says, cannot be topped for round-the-clock pure bullshit). In each job description, Bing provides such observations as ‘The Upside, The Downside and The Dark Side.’ In his description of someone who holds a top job at the strategic consulting firm, McKinsey, Bing’s upside is: “License to kill comes with the job” (referring to all the downsizing that McKinsey types do when they’re hired). The downside as: “People run away and hide in the AV closet when they see you coming” and the dark side as: “You are found with a chicken skewer through your neck at the client retreat in Boca.”

So, there you have it. Three totally different books with three totally different POVs that open one’s mind, make one think and cause one to laugh out loud. What more could a blogger ask for? Oh, one criticism of the Bing book, though: how did he not list medical supplies executive as one of the top 100 bullshit jobs of all time?

Jul 08

Motown’s macho man

Imagine picking up a newspaper or turning on the tube to learn your significant other has fallen
4fcaa6ba3e21 in love with someone else. Well, that's figuratively what happened to Greg Anderson, CEO of ad agency BBH, who read his agency had been fired by Cadillac in Advertising Age! No warning by the client. No note thanking the firm for its work. Nothing. Talk about being blindsided. To make matters worse, the exact same fate befell Susan Gianinno, CEO of Publicis, a month earlier.

Both had fallen victim to Motown's new macho man, Joel Ewanick, the VP of U.S. Advertising for General Motors. Ewanick has been in his job for exactly two months. In just 60 days, he's destroyed his own image, further tarnished GM's already tattered reputation and decimated two fine ad agencies. Now, there's something to tell the grandchildren one day (“Curl up on grandpa's lap and let me tell you about the time I whacked two hot shot ad agencies in less than 30 days. You kids will just love it!”).

Prior to GM, Ewanick had toiled for Nissan, Hyundai and a
yacht maker. Something tells his internal ethics compass went awry on board one
of those yachts.

Kudos to Ad Age for once again providing a valuable reader service by outing such horrific behavior. I wish our PR trades would follow suit. Trust me, Ewanick is not unique (and, try saying that three times fast).

If I were the Motown macho man's new agencies, though, I'd be sure the invoices were paid promptly. This guy put the 'v' in volatile.

We've been 'Ewanicked' a few times in our storied history, but it was never as sinister as this. We once pitched the division of a Fortune 500 company, for example, and were told a decision would be forthcoming shortly. Naturally, that was followed by complete radio silence. Then, sure enough, O'Dwyer's printed an article announcing the corporation's new agency of record. I was upset, so I e-mailed the prospect. He responded a few days later saying he thought he'd sent a letter to the losers. Nice. No apology. No explanation. Nothing. Just lots of wasted time and effort on our part and yet another misbehaving prospect not held accountable.

If there's a god (and one wonders nowadays), Ewanick will get his just desserts one day soon. Ideally, he'll wake up in his Grosse Point Farms estate, shuffle to the front door, pick up a copy of Automotive News and read the following, 'Ewanick Sacked. Smith to Head GM's Advertising.' I'll bet a lot of BBH and Publicis staffers would lift a glass of champagne to toast that decision.