We'd All Be Happier If Julie Rhoem Was Still At Wal-Mart
You know what this whole Wal-Roehm scandal is all about? Nothing. She just got caught. Hundreds of agency and client-side executives do exactly what she allegedly did and no one ever hears about it. We're not saying that makes it right. We're just saying.
But let's examine further. She's accused of having dinner with agency execs. What marketing director hasn't done that? She's accused of taking rides in ad execs fancy cars. Who wouldn't want to do that it offered? She accused of indicating to an agency exec said agency had the upper hand. Who hasn't been optimistic when discussing business with a potential partner? She's accused of accepting gifts from ad agencies courting the Wal-Mart account. Oh please. What agency on this earth doesn't do that when trying to win an account and what marketing director doesn't slide them into their briefcase before anyone notices?
She's accused of having a "relationship" with a subordinate. Anyone who works in marketing organization knows it's just one room over from a dating service. She's accused of turning a boring stockholder meeting into something people would actually want to attend. Who really wants to spend three hours discussing boring things like revenue, P&E ratios, gross profits, net income and stock price? OK, so a lot of people do but it doesn't have to be boring. OK, so it was cheesy but still. She's accused of managing through racy ad, called "Sexy," in which a married couple discuss lingerie while audienced by their family. Uh, hello? Everyone has to do the "sex sells" thing at least once in their career.
In and of themselves, there's nothing really wrong with Rhoem's actions. Yes, she did breal some very strict Wal-mart code of conduct rules. But, again, she just got caught and that's when the harm started flying off the fan blades. Draft/FCB had $580 million in potential billings yanked. That's gotta hurt. Draft/FCB was in the middle of hiring a boat load of people. Those recent hires are gong to hurt badly. Wal-mart is without a captain running the marketing ship. That's gotta hurt. Interpublic's stock has fallen. That's definitely gotta hurt. Yes, she did break rules. There's no disputing that. But, to take a contrarian point of view, none of this harm wold have happened had she not been caught. Doesn't make it right. We're just saying.
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