The 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?