Saturday, November 10, 2007
The Steve Biegel versus Toyo Shigeta sexual harassment and discrimination lawsuit brings new bias to Madison Avenue. As if the industry needed innovation in this area.
Biegel’s charges have been published extensively, so we’ll forgo replaying the details. Anyone who needs a download is encouraged to google, “Tokyo bathhouse, Prague brothel, Mexican whore and Sharapova’s crotch.”
Media outlets have had difficulty keeping a straight face while reporting the news. Meanwhile, the online comments have served up equal shares of disgust for Biegel and Shigeta. Senior-level advertising executives never seem to lack haters. Note to fired employees suing employers: Don’t ever go public—it only attracts the nutcases while appearing to reveal your desperation (plus, if an employer calls your bluff, it usually means they’re not concerned about the potential negative press).
That aside, the racial and cultural angles have been pushed ad nauseam. Except this time, the pusher is a White man. Don’t expect New York City’s Commission on Human Rights or Jesse Jackson to step into the fray.
One online comment defending Biegel—which other commentators insist Biegel typed himself—sums up the racial hoopla: “It’s brave for this guy to single-handedly stand up against that mysterious Japanese firm. … You [a Biegel critic] sound like a plant that Dentsu hired to badmouth Steve’s character. Which is probably their only defense. Are you Japanese?”
Yes, it looks like Jap-bashing is back. Beware the shadowy aliens with sinister attitudes about intercourse and three-ways with Hispanic hookers. Why, it’s a corporate Caligula being forced upon mild-mannered family men.
The sensational spectacle includes experts debating assorted Asian business traditions and myths. In Bangkok, for example, the professional festivities showcase lewd uses for ping-pong balls.
Um, has everyone already forgotten the DraftFCB-Wal-Mart scenario? The tale starred a female marketing executive fucking her subordinate, and the advertising CEO displaying a naked photo of his model girlfriend while his partner dealt with a lawsuit involving illicit affairs in the Church. There was also a published advertisement with fornicating lions. And that’s just a single, short-lived client-agency relationship from the good old USA.
Sorry, but sexual improprieties are hardly foreign in our industry. As an ad veteran, Biegel surely witnessed and participated in far worse over the years.
As for the accusations of anti-Semitism, well, Jewish adfolks haven’t exactly been oppressed. Certainly not in 21st century, at least.
Can’t help but think Biegel versus Shigeta ultimately hurts the industry by lessening the impact of real sexual and discriminatory offenses. There are plenty of ancient Chinese secrets and more lurking on Madison Avenue.
But that’s just our biased opinion.