Hiring Shenanigans

The obsequiousness of ad agencies sometimes leads a client to the mistaken belief that it does, indeed, wield great respect and deference. Such seems to be the case with GM, with its surprised and hostile reaction to a Publicis attempt to hire former GM executive Kurt Ritter as an account guy for its Saatchi & Saatchi property's Toyota business.

Agency veterans like myself, who have jumped from one competitive agency to another, landing in the same brand business, have to question what the big deal is, other than, of course, the obviously outsized client egos. After all, if GM didn't have a problem with Saatchi handling the Toyota business in the first place, how could it have a beef with hiring a former executive into the account? Do they really think that the brains in the Michigan headquarters constitute a competitive advantage that needs to be prevented from competitive spread? The quality of the advertising product just doesn't bear that out.

Thunderclouds brewed in Detroit, and wrath rained down on Saatchi's parent group (managers of Pontiac, Cadillac and Goodwrench), perhaps egged on by reports that fellow GM account holder IPG (managers of the corporate jewels Chevrolet, GMC, Buick and other scraps) volunteered to take over the accounts of any bad-mannered agencies. Ahem.



Press accounts last week indicated a meeting was called for Publicis to genuflect in front of GM honchos and make as yet undetermined "concessions."

Some "concessions" appropriate to the occasion may include the following:

  • "I concede that your ego is entirely too large for your corporate headquarters, and it's very nice to see you occupying New York City airspace."

  • "We feel that hiring a GM executive does give the taint of an unfair advantage, so we recommend conceding another executive to be named later to IPG, where he can taint some other car account - perhaps at Lowe's Renault account, or the Saab business. They could be compensated by actually paying them a fair commission."

    This, among many other reasons, is why I'm not running a major automotive account.

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