May 19


I'm dedicating Aretha Franklin's 'R-E-S-P-E-C-T" to 
some ADD-ravaged marketing folks at a leading distilled spirits maker. They’d recently invited us to pitch their business despite the fact we possessed little, if any, 'liquor' experience. Naturally, once we were in the midst of the presentation, the lead marketer asked about our creds and, after listening to two or three brief case studies, sighed and asked: 'That's all?'


But, disrespecting our lack of industry experience didn't prompt today's blog. It was something far more pernicious. The entire team used their BlackBerries throughout our presentation. 


I kid you not when I say that each, and every, member of the seven-person team consistently sent and received e-mails on their PDAs as we walked through our pitch. It was unbelievably rude.


But, according to research conducted by Christine Pearson, a professor of international business at The Thunderbird School of Global Management, this sort of boorish boardroom behavior has become par for the course.


Pearson says increased incivility in business is a direct result of the PDA craze. Why? Because we believe simultaneously attending a meeting and multitasking on a Blackberry increases our efficiency. Neuroscientists say it produces the exact opposite effect: dividing our attention between competing stimuli instead of handling tasks one at a time actually makes us less productive.


The folks from this leading spirits company are by no means alone in their multitasking boorishness. Peppercom has two senior executives who are notorious for their use of BBs during our weekly management meetings. I've even tried to hide one of the offender's PDA in the hope that he'd cease and desist. Alas, no such luck.


Prospective clients are more insensitive than ever to an agency's time and resources. It's one thing to demand a proposal overnight, select the best ideas and then never announce a winning agency. But, it's even worse to publicly humiliate a firm by paying more attention to a BlackBerry than to a presenter. So, note to this particular marketing team: R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Find out what it means to me.

Nov 26

I’d give ‘e’ an ‘A’

I just finished reading a hilarious book called ‘e’. Written in 2000 by a veteran of the British advertisingE_5
wars, ‘e’ follows the adventures and misadventures of a fictitious London ad agency called Miller Shanks.

Like ‘Who moved my blackberry?‘ the plot unfolds in a series of e-mails between agency management, the creative group, executive headhunters, office services and new hires.

Unlike ‘Who moved my blackberry?’ ‘e’ gets into office politics, office romances and office images/reputations. There’s the technology-challenged boss, the backstabbing creative director, the burnt out hippy of an art director, the nerdy office services manager and a whole bevy of sexually active personal assistants. They all act, and react, to the stresses of a major new business pitch while jockeying for power with one another.

To call ‘e’ a page-turner does it a disservice. I found it alternately riveting and rollicking. And, I related to just about every character, having worked for, or with, carbon copies of each.

‘E’ is a little dated and uses some Brit-specific jokes and phrases, but it’s well worth the time and effort. It’s also the kind of book I’d like to one day write myself since it reinforces the absurdity of the workplace and self-important types who too often frequent the hallways.