Hatred unites America. Think about it. We hated Japan after Pearl Harbor. We hated bin Laden
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.