Sep 11

The 12th man should be cut

NFL teams like to think the home field crowd makes a big difference in determining a game’s outcome. InJets_3
fact, some teams refer to the value-add a raucous crowd provides as being the equivalent of a ’12th man’ on the squad.

The Jets are no exception. Except that their stadium fans are god-awful, and quick to pounce on mistakes by ‘Gang Green.’ Case in point: on Sunday the entire stadium booed as injured Jets Quarterback Chad Pennington hobbled off the field (this despite a 16-21 performance with two touchdown passes). They also mercilessly heckled a halftime entertainment show that included fellow fans randomly selected to attempt field goal kicks. After one particularly gruesome attempt, thousands of fans began chanting, ‘You suck.’

The Jets are a weak team with lots of needs. One thing they don’t need, however, is a disloyal stadium crowd. It’s time to ‘boot’ the long-term season ticket holders and bring in actual supporters. The Jets need to cut their 12th man.

Thanks to Repman, Jr. for the idea.

Sep 10

Not wanting to let go isn’t limited to Baby Boomer CEOs

The Wall Street Journal article on Baby Boomer CEOs and their reluctance to step down struck a chord. Old_man

In the article, the Journal cites a 60-something chief executive who had hired his successor and then, quite simply, refused to leave. The exact same thing happened to me 12 years ago.

I was hired by a 65-year-old CEO to be his heir apparent. Foolishly, I took his word that he’d be gone within a year. Instead, I was the one who ended up leaving.

After settling in, I discovered that I was only the latest in a long line of successors this ‘lion in winter’ had hand-picked for the assignment. Truth be told, though, he had no desire to ever relinquish the reins. So, he made life unbearable for we CEOs in waiting and forced us out, one by one.

Every cloud does indeed have its silver lining, though, and so did this one. Immediately after leaving that hellish environment, I holed up with Sir Edward Moed in his squalid, one bedroom apartment and launched Peppercom.

Oh, and the CEO in question? He finally disappeared into the sunset about five years ago. It just goes to show that Baby Boomer CEOs aren’t unique in their desire to hang on as long as possible. In fact, history’s pages are replete with ‘chief executives’ like Napoleon, Caligula and Saddam Hussein who had no desire to ever let go.

Thanks to Laura Zanzal for the idea.

Sep 07

A Job(s) well done

Steve Jobs’ letter of explanation to iPhone owners outraged by Apple’s decision to slash the high-profileJobs
product’s retail price by some $200 was classic crisis communications 101.

In the text attached, Jobs explained why the price was cut, suggested ways in which he’d make it up to everyone who had stood in lines and paid full fare a few months back and also gave a quick primer on the realities of life in the tech sector’s fast lane. It was brief, but comprehensive; blunt yet empathetic.

The Jobs letter should be studied by CEOs everywhere as a classic example of crisis response: it’s rare and refreshing these days to see a leader who actually leads by example.

Thanks to Brendan Mullin for the idea.

Sep 06

Ad men may not like ‘Madmen,’ but I’m a huge fan

I adore the new AMC series ‘Madmen.’ It beautifully captures the look and feel of a time when advertising men ruled the world (or, so it must have seemed).Madmen_l

Named for what advertising execs called themselves in the halycon days of 1960, Madmen follows the in-and-out of office exploits of advertising guys who drink, smoke and wench to excess.

I’ve read quite a few reviews and letters in the ad trade pubs that either love or detest the series. Some say it doesn’t remotely resemble the BBDO of 1960 (on which the fictitious Stirling Cooper agency in the show is based). Other old-timers say it’s spot on.

Regardless of how accurate Madmen is, it comes at a particularly bad time for advertising. Despite what some say, I’m seeing more and more advertising dollars being diverted to ‘below-the-line’ functions such as PR, digital and word-of-mouth.

In fact, it’s got to be scary to be a big agency guy right now. Budgets are being slashed, brand loyalty has clearly become a thing of the past and chief marketing officers are dying faster than Mayflies.

All of which must make more than one ad guy wish he had an office set-up like lead Madmen character Don Draper’s. When Don’s stressed, he and the boys merely light up their cancer sticks, pour a tall glass of scotch and gossip about the hot women in the secretarial pool.

If today’s politically correct environment and unforgiving business climate were to be captured in a similar AMC series, it might be more appropriate to call it ‘Sadmen.’

Sep 05

Who needs a Tony Snow?

The White House has a new, number one cheerleader in the person of CBS Nightly News Anchor KatieCouric_2

‘On assignment’ in Iraq this week, Katie has filed one flattering, pro-administration, pro-surge report after another. In one, she’s busy touring an airy, laugh-filled Baghdad marketplace. In another, she’s tooling around an oh-so-sedate Fallujah with General David H. Petraeus. As they stretch out in the back of a Humvee, Katie asks the top Army kick how things are going…..

Petraeus: “Very well, Katie.”

Katie: "Yes, it’s clear that things here are under control. How important was the recent 30,000 troop surge to this success?"

Petraeus: "Huge. The extra troops have allowed us to really keep things in line. We’re now spiraling up instead of spiraling down."

Katie smiles contentedly, adjusts her sunglasses and, no doubt, goes on to ask the general if his Humvee comes equipped with a lighted vanity mirror she can use to touch-up her face. One would think Iraq’s heat and desert winds must wreak absolute havoc on a top journalist’s hairdoo.

And, what was up with the timing of Katie’s ‘frontlines’ assignment and W’s ‘surprise’ visit to war-torn Iraq. Is there any doubt conversations were held between the White House and CBS to negotiate a dramatic, on-the-ground interview between the two embattled figureheads?

Katie’s recent reportage indicates her having come full circle in her career. She started out as a high school cheerleader and has now gone back to the future on 43’s behalf. Who needs Tony Snow when Katie’s available?