Saturday, April 21, 2012

10026: Poaching Means Perpetuating.

Advertising Age reported that Draftfcb and Digitas resolved the poaching lawsuit filed last month, with Digitas essentially saying, “My bad,” and promising to enforce non-solicitation obligations in the future. Forget poaching lawsuits. It’s time to start filing perpetuating lawsuits, penalizing agencies for engaging in cronyism, nepotism and “buddy systems” that maintain exclusivity and effectively stifle diversity. Sentences could include immediately terminating all the executives involved in the poaching, replacing them with minorities.

DraftFCB Drops Poaching Lawsuit Against Digitas

Makes Move Just a Month After Filing

By Maureen Morrison

The poaching lawsuit DraftFCB last month filed against two former employees and crosstown rival Digitas has been dropped, Ad Age has learned.

In March, the Interpublic Group of Cos. shop filed a complaint against Publicis Groupe’s Digitas and former DraftFCB employees Kevin Drew Davis and Brooke Skinner—a digital creative exec and senior planning executive, respectively, who defected to Digitas. DraftFCB alleged that the execs violated signed agreements that enabled them to go to a competitor but forbid them from recruiting former DraftFCB colleagues for one year.

“Both of them have violated that agreement, for in the months after they joined Digitas, at least five of their DraftFCB colleagues, with whom they had worked closely while at DraftFCB, have joined them at Digitas,” said the lawsuit, filed in Cook County Circuit Court in Illinois.

Ms. Skinner, who led planning on DraftFCB’s former SC Johnson account, went to Digitas in August, after the agency lost the global account. The lawsuit said that since her arrival, two former DraftFCB employees with whom Ms. Skinner worked closely had joined Digitas. Mr. Davis left in October to join Digitas, and the complaint said three former DraftFCB digital creative have since joined Digitas.

DraftFCB further alleged that Digitas knew of the provisions and influenced Ms. Skinner and Mr. Davis to help hire their former colleagues.

But it’s all water under the bridge now.

In a joint statement released today the agencies said: “Both DraftFCB and Digitas have a tremendous amount of respect for each other, and our recent legal dispute was unfortunate. As a result of the agreements made between the parties, legal actions have been dropped.”

The statement further said that “Digitas will continue to ensure that the nonsolicitation obligations of its employees are strictly enforced” and that “both agencies are fully committed to reinforcing Chicago as a great marketing and advertising community, sometimes in competition, and sometimes in cooperation with one another.”

The outcome is typical of poaching lawsuits in adland. They’re often filed to send a public message, but no trial or monetary exchange results.

Another Interpublic agency, McCann, filed a lawsuit against MDC Partners’ KBS&P about two years ago. The suit was settled swiftly, and no damages were paid. MDC and KBS&P merely agreed not to solicit any McCann employees for six months.

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