Sunday, June 24, 2007
Why does Advertising Age’s Small Agency Diary seem to inspire small-minded commentary?
In the past week, Bart Cleveland and Marc Brownstein posted perspectives that drew responses from industry critic Hadji Williams (see Essays 4076 and 4080), and Cleveland’s thread even displayed nastiness (see Essay 4091).
It’s funny how advertising veterans become paranoid and offensive when presented with the prospect of biased behavior on Madison Avenue. Cleveland was particularly stereotypical in his response, choosing to personally attack Williams. Ditto Brad Gutting in subsequent remarks. It’s reminiscent of the recent Don Imus fiasco, where Rev. Jesse Jackson and Rev. Al Sharpton were targeted with death threats after calling out the racist shock jock—although Williams might question being lumped with the Dynamic Duo of Diversity, since he occasionally prefers to title himself as Black Canseco. Additionally, there’s no intention here to brand Cleveland, Brownstein and Gutting as being in any way associated with Imus.
Regardless, it’s interesting to note that Cleveland and Brownstein whined about the pains of finding qualified talent, yet both exhibited zero attempts to stray from the standard recruitment tactics that have fortified our industry’s much-deserved reputation for exclusivity.
Cleveland took ignorance to another level by later posting an unrelated editorial on the imperative for change. Here’s a direct excerpt from his newest proclamation:
“What are you doing different? We all have bad habits that keep us from reaching our true potential. I love change because it forces you to stay on your toes. More importantly, it forces you to look at how you do things today. I hate it when people say, ‘We’ve always done it that way.’ That is the lamest reason I’ve ever heard. Gordon Sawyer founded my previous agency in 1960 in Gainesville, a small north Georgia town that’s biggest industry was chicken farms. Frank Compton used to tell me how Gordon would walk in randomly and make everyone change offices. Frank said it was great because it re-energized everyone, getting them out of whatever ruts they might be in at the time. If a guy from a chicken-farm town can be this forward thinking, I want to be.”
Hmmm. Heaven forbid Cleveland should apply such progressive notions to the search for employees. But he’ll probably be happy to learn that New York City’s Commission on Human Rights has no jurisdiction in New Mexico, where his small agency resides. As always, walking the walk remains a difficult dance move for old school adfolks.