MultiCultClassics is often occupied with real work. As a result, a handful of events occur without the expected blog commentary. This limited series—Delayed WTF—seeks to make belated amends for the absence of malice.
Victors & Spoils—the crowdsourcing agency fabricated in 2009 by John Winsor, Claudia Batten and Evan Fry—may soon become Losers & Scraps. After conning Havas into acquiring a majority stake in the business, Batten bailed out in June, and now Fry has finagled his way back to CP+B. Batten was reportedly launching a digital startup, but her LinkedIn page still lists her as COO and Co-Founder of Victors & Spoils. Meanwhile, Fry is taking the freshly-invented role of executive director of creative development, and the official press release stated he’ll “focus on evolving the creative process as well as offering mentorship and support.” Guess the V&S new business model is not groundbreaking; rather, it’s simply breaking. And Batten and Fry appear to be scurrying back to the comforts of the old business model.
The obscenity of it all can be realized by checking the Wikipedia reference on the phrase that inspired the agency’s name:
In the politics of the United States, a spoil system (also known as a patronage system) is a practice where a political party, after winning an election, gives government jobs to its voters as a reward for working toward victory, and as an incentive to keep working for the party—as opposed to a merit system, where offices are awarded on the basis of some measure of merit, independent of political activity.
The term was derived from the phrase “to the victor belong the spoils of the enemy” by New York Senator William L. Marcy, referring to the victory of the Jackson Democrats in the election of 1828.
Similar spoils systems are common in other nations that traditionally have been based on tribal organization or other kinship groups and localism in general.
Ironically, Winsor once said, “We’re trying to create a new operating system for the advertising industry. We’re trying to create a meritocracy.” Perhaps the man isn’t familiar with the roots of his shop’s masthead. Regardless, if Winsor is to be believed, then the inevitable downfall of his enterprise only underscores the industry’s inability to shed its dependence on cronyism, nepotism and other assorted privilege-based constructs. And if Winsor and Havas seek to continue the grand experiment, V&S should be required to reveal the diversity of its digital database of creative talent. Then it will be possible to accurately evaluate the newness of the operating system—or the oldness of Winsor’s bullshit. For now, MultiCultClassics will bet V&S is essentially a culturally clueless crowd.