DraftFCB CFO Bob Oates Shown the Door

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While most of us are celebrating the fact it's Friday, DraftFCB CFO Bob Oates may not be so happy. We're told he's been fired by Howard Draft today and rumors indicate it's because he didn't think very highly of top management's spending habits. It's another chapter in the agency's bloodbath following the loss of the Verizon account which resulted in anywhere between 50 and 150 layoffs depending upon who you talk to. Not to mention the ongoing post-merger after effects.

by Steve Hall    Aug-17-07   Click to Comment   
Topic: Agencies   

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Comments



Comments

Steve...
Forget the 50... It's 150... And it ain't over 'til the fat Howard sings.
Cheers/George

Posted by: George Parker on August 17, 2007 5:13 PM

I have found that advertising agencies, and people at advertising agencies are let go, in the end, more often than not, for shooting from the hip and not doing their homework. Now shooting from the hip can be fun and very creative (Can you hit the target? (audience) But no one likes doing homework. The homework to which I refer involves giving creatives the ammunition they need to make better creative. Most CMOs die within 24 months because they don't want to pay for homework. As a result, they and the agency end up selling today and tommorrow's products with yesterday's positioning strategies. Ads, ad agencies and creative change daily, but not positioning strategies. As a result far more ads are forgotten than remembered. Look what happened to Crispin Porter + Bogusky when they attempted to invigorate popcorn with Orville Dedenbacher. They lost the account. No homework. Didn't have the money. So shot from the hip and shot themselves in the foot. MOre accounts are lost this way than you could imagine. A paycheck is a terrible thing to waste.
Martin Calle
Chief of Disruptive Consumer Intelligence
Calle & Company
www.CalleCompany.com
Would appreciate a link
http://advertising-age.blogspot.com

Posted by: hmartincalle [TypeKey Profile Page] on August 18, 2007 11:24 AM

Personal opinion - this post nails it, and on two scores. First, it doesn't take more than a dash of common sense to recognize that a principle danger in shooting from the hip comes from a lack to time to aim your gun. But, even more to the point, the notion that CMOs and their agencies aren't allowing/requiring the proper of amount of homework goes a long way to explain why so many clients of late are complaining that their creative agencies aren't delivering enough creative envelope-pushing.

After all, if you eliminate the ability to uncover the deep consumer insights that so often lead to new, unexpected and exciting brand connections, you force the whole marketing ship to rely on inspiration alone for propulsion. And while you can't deny that genius moments do happen, you also have to admit they are exceedingly and unpredictably rare.

Posted by: Jef Loeb on August 19, 2007 3:18 PM

Personal opinion - this post nails it, and on two scores. First, it doesn't take more than a dash of common sense to recognize that a principle danger in shooting from the hip comes from a lack to time to aim your gun. But, even more to the point, the notion that CMOs and their agencies aren't allowing/requiring the proper of amount of homework goes a long way to explain why so many clients of late are complaining that their creative agencies aren't delivering enough creative envelope-pushing.

After all, if you eliminate the ability to uncover the deep consumer insights that so often lead to new, unexpected and exciting brand connections, you force the whole marketing ship to rely on inspiration alone for propulsion. And while you can't deny that genius moments do happen, you also have to admit they are exceedingly and unpredictably rare.

Posted by: Jef Loeb on August 19, 2007 3:18 PM

Guys....
As I pointed out on www.adscam.typepad.com and as Steve did in his post... Bob Oates was the CFO... Not the CMO... He was responsible for the FINANCES, not the creative product. He was also at FCB for about twenty years... So, neither of your comments are actually relevant to the post! Sorry Jef, Martin's comment didn't nail anything.
Cheers/George

Posted by: George Parker on August 19, 2007 3:55 PM

I'm not buying it Martin and Jef. Do we really need to spend another chunk of $$$ on positioning? I understand that the agency makes good money in this area, but in my opinion, it's really not needed for many consumer products. I might make exceptions for certain high-tech or complex products.

But popcorn? For the CP+B example, the only positioning I need is that 99.9% of people don't want to buy a product associated with a dead guy.

Posted by: SomeGuy on August 19, 2007 4:01 PM

Hmmm - seemed to have wandered into deep waters here. I reaally was responding to Martin's comments...not the story about Mr. Oates departure...which, candidly, I only noticed in the aftermath. However, not to defend the position on positioning or anything...but for those who doubt the value of doing the homework that gets you to the consumer insights that gets you to the brand positioning that gets you to big and effective advertising ideas I have just two words: Got Milk?

Posted by: Jef Loeb on August 19, 2007 6:27 PM

Jeff...
No, but I've got a fucking big bottle of Gin...
I do agree with you on Goodby though. As I have said for years GS&P leaves everyone (including the Frat boys at CP+B) in the dust.
Cheers/George

Posted by: George Parker on August 19, 2007 6:34 PM

Dear SomeGuy and George,

Apologies for getting off point, but, positioning is the highest octane fuel - yet most brands run on regular. Speed takes money? How fast do you want to go?

McKinsey & Company says, "Despite solid balance sheets and healthy profit margins, the US$ 2 trillion consumer packaged goods industry is losing much of its glow. Revenues and market values are going flat, and executives are wondering where the growth is going to come from."

So current positions, and all that other stuff must be in some need of repair.

I wasn't looking for your support. But agreement is nice when you get it. Thank you for stimulating the conversation.

Martin Calle
Chief of Strategy
Disruptive Consumer Intelligence
Calle & Company
www.CalleCompany.com
MADISON AVENUE BLOG http://advertising-age.blogspot.com

Posted by: Martin Calle on August 19, 2007 6:51 PM

Now things get interesting with GOT MILK. That was a CATEGORY POSITIONING. It drove everyone's brand. Not just one in particular. Great yes, but this is my gripe.

Now the issue becomes category driving positions versus brand driving positions. And here is the rub as far as Madison Avenue is concerned.

If you give a product, such as a stew - to an advertising agency, an advertising agency can come up with 100 ways to sell stew. Only one positioned stew as THE SOUP YOU EAT WITH A FORK. Me. It drove just the brand. CHUNKY SOUP. And created a new category. Those that followed, and their agencies, then converged on the same position trying to creatively say the same things different ways. HOMESTYLE, THICK & HEARTY, etc. Commodity positions executed by talented people who only had the ability to take their businesses so far because of the limitations of their own leadership and vision. They just didn't do the homework to one up the original. But it could have been done by anyone with a will to do so. As a result would be contenders such as Progresso have been sold or changed as accounts a number of times. As a result, many people lost jobs and had to regain them via the resume process. Would it not have been better to go CHUNKY SOUP one better and stay with the horse what brung you.

Posted by: Martin Calle on August 19, 2007 7:33 PM


Okay Martin. We're ready to hear the new Orville Redenbacher positioning: GO!

Posted by: SomeGuy on August 19, 2007 11:08 PM

Hi SomeGuy,

Speed cost money. Positioning is the highest octane fuel. Now is when. Money you have. How fast do you want to go?

Unfortunately, I do not spin positions off the top of my head. That would introduce bias that has led many astray. Asignments that root out first place positions for products and brands take about six weeks. That's why our website says, "Go from average brand to breakthrough in six weeks or less."

I'd be more than happy to go over the process with you. It has absolutely nothing to do with market research, and everything to do with the fundamental nature of creativity. I go into every assignment with an open mind, a clean slate, and leave all the knowledge about what I think I know behind. When we are done with an assignment, we go with the consumer generated directions in the hopper. For new products these include the creation of Tylenol Gelcaps which resolved the cyanide tampering insident (a consumer-created solution), Cold-filtered Miller Genuine Draft Beer (created for Miller when the rest of the company was chasing "dry beer" concepts. Back then, the promise of dry beer was less beer aftertaste. I asked Miller New Venture's Director Dave Krishock who hired me to create what people "really" wanted if he'd ever met a heavy beer drinker who had a problem with the aftertaste of beer? Dry beer was a solution looking for a problem!) and Baked Lays Potato Chips (which sold $310 million worth of product in the first 10 months when Indra Nooyi's Wow Chips with Olestra (a P&G supplier concept) couldn't even fill the pipeline with $29 million in product). Earlier, Vaseline Intensive Care Lotion (the first lotion to demonstrate an ability to heal - not just smooth women's skin), Ragu Spaghetti Sauce (the first commercial spaghetti sauce. Prego followed), Speed Stick Antiperspirants (the world's first solid stick, and still the most popular), Tic Tac Mints (broke LifeSaver's stranglehold on the US pocket mint market - facilitating Michele Fererro's US expansion plans. This opened the door for IceBreakers, Altoids, Listerine Strips and all the other pocket/purse brands that followed), etc. All firsts of their kinds that opened new categories in which now employ others.

Please go to my website, click on the link for accepting our invitation and I'll reply with my phone number. Or, click on the contact tab. If you work for a manufacturer such as Procter & Gamble, or an agency, please let me know.

www.CalleCompany.com

Thanks.

Martin Calle

Posted by: Martin Calle on August 20, 2007 1:23 PM

Jeebus, now I need a big fucking bottle of gin.

Posted by: SomeGuy on August 20, 2007 4:13 PM

Wouldn't it be nice if people stopped posting marketing speak for their agency's "process" in the guise of a discussion point?

There's a topic at hand, this isn't the proper forum to pitch us your business Martin.

Posted by: Haltingpoint on August 21, 2007 1:59 PM


My personal POV is that there have to be big clients out there who are so sick of hearing marketing blather and buzzword blah blah blah from agencies that they would welcome a straight approach like this:

"Hi. I'm SomeGuy from ABC Marketing Shop LLC. I'm not here to BS you. Why you might want to talk to us:

1. Me and my team aren't any smarter than anyone else. But, we're good people and easy to work with.

2. We'll take you to Vegas or wherever and buy some nice dinners and good wine, and collectively do some decent work.

3. We won't waste your time and money with our proprietary planning horseshit or that type of thing.

4. With your help (you are the experts in your business after all), we will come up with our best guess as to what will work and go with it, and adjust on the fly.

5. You won't have to worry about budget creep, cost over-runs, unexpected invoices and all that crap. Decent work, nice people, low stress.

Thoughts?

Posted by: SomeGuy on August 21, 2007 2:32 PM


My personal POV is that there have to be big clients out there who are so sick of hearing marketing blather and buzzword blah blah blah from agencies that they would welcome a straight approach like this:

"Hi. I'm SomeGuy from ABC Marketing Shop LLC. I'm not here to BS you. Why you might want to talk to us:

1. Me and my team aren't any smarter than anyone else. But, we're good people and easy to work with.

2. We'll take you to Vegas or wherever and buy some nice dinners and good wine, and collectively do some decent work.

3. We won't waste your time and money with our proprietary planning horseshit or that type of thing.

4. With your help (you are the experts in your business after all), we will come up with our best guess as to what will work and go with it, and adjust on the fly.

5. You won't have to worry about budget creep, cost over-runs, unexpected invoices and all that crap. Decent work, nice people, low stress.

Thoughts?

Posted by: SomeGuy on August 21, 2007 2:36 PM

Would that it would be so, Someguy - the world, not to mention the advertising industry, could use a little more informed and honest self deprecation. But the problem with pitching business that starts out with the word "me" is that "you" are entirely uninteresting to the person you are pitching. As the guy I think of as the best new business coach in the business (name of Tony Loue, FYI, no affiliation with hiim or his company) points out the central question in the prospect's mind is "what does this clown bring to MY party?" Nice people, decent work, parity claims one and all are of little comfort and less relevance to a CMO who knows that the only people who get fired more easily and more often than outside agencies are the unfortunate souls who occupy the marketing hot seat inside the company. That's why star power, awards and all that other stuff plays so well - because it offers some modicum of cover and comfort that "hey, I hired the best."

Okay, we're now thoroughly off track. I hope Mr. Oates doesn't read this thread and think we didn't care enough about his rough treatment to stay on topic.

Signing off,

Jef

Posted by: Jef Loeb on August 21, 2007 2:48 PM

Let's see. How should I take this? Should I challenge everyone and say, "You do it your way and I'll do it mine and we'll see whose product sells most." Or should I pause and reflect on the trivet hanging on the cabin wall? It says, "The hurrieder I go, the behinder I get."

I believe the substance of the matter here is that it takes people a lifetime just to get one career's worth of experience. Reminds me of, "If I only knew then what I know now." I was in SomeGuy's shoes once. Worked at a big agency. I saw that that kind of thinking ultimately lost the account. And then I saw it happen again and again at other agencies. You can BS some of the people some of the time, but you can't BS all of the people all of the time.

Led me to believe the definition of insanity was doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. I decided I liked job security better. Intercepted Wheaties as an account. Shoot from the hip whole grain positioning meant to screen, yet popularize the notion the brand was reducing costs by moving to non-descript ingredients. Nice guy agency went along. Now they're doing it again. Way to go Steve Sanger. Client hired me because the brand began hemmoraging volume. Was being delisted at major chain grocery accounts. I did my homework for Wheaties. Returned Wheaties to specific Whole Wheat position. Set record profit and volume. Increased distribution 24%. Won Advertising Age Magazine's Award as Year's Best Repositioned Brand. With Wheaties at 99% ACV, wouldn't you have to ask yourself how someone made a brand so much more popular than it already was that you could increase distribution 24%? Few cereal brands are as well recognized and widely sold as Wheaties.

Boxing legend Smokin' Joe Frazier said, "Champions are not made in the ring. They are merely recognized there. It is not what you accomplish in the glare of the light that matters. It is what you've done, training in the dark of the night and early morning hours when no one was looking that makes the difference."

That's not buzz. It's just homework.

But I don't have to sell everyone. If I get 2 out of 10 in agreement that gives me a 20% market share. And in most categories today, they'd make anyone President that could accomplish that. And I've done that often enough to have accrued many career's worth of experience in one lifetime.

Bill Cosby said, "I don't know the definition of success. But I know the definition of failure is trying to please everyone." So I don't try.

As Rodney King asked, "Can't we all just get along?" You are entitld to your opinion.

Posted by: Martin Calle on August 21, 2007 3:50 PM

Jef, good points all. But I still think there are CMOs out there who would welcome a creative partner who leaves the 200-slide PowerPoints at home, who doesn't try week after week to sell some proprietary vaporware project, who doesn't have some crappy forward-looking next-generation-of-marketing blog, and who will never spout off some drivel cribbed from the latest "hot" marketing book.

Martin, I'm not arguing for or against your points. You are clearly a smart guy who has been around the block a few times and done some effective work.

Regardless of all this, hopefully one thing we can agree to do - let's all raise a glass to Mr Bob Oates tonight.

Posted by: SomeGuy on August 21, 2007 4:28 PM

Someguy... I've been raising a glass or two to Bob ever since I've heard the news... Not that I need an excuse to raise a glass etc... However, I think Steve should declare this thread dead. We've all beat the shit out of it.
Cheers/George

Posted by: George Parker on August 21, 2007 6:25 PM

Bob, George, Jef, SomeGuy? Thanks for playing our game! Johnny, what do we have for our contestants today? Well Mart, we have Vodka, Gin, Whiskey, Scotch, Rum, Tequila - all the usual suspects. Guys? You're good sorts! Do you want your drinks on ice or straight up? Here's to you Bob!

Posted by: Martin Calle on August 21, 2007 8:30 PM

Bob, George, Jef, SomeGuy? Thanks for playing our game! Johnny, what do we have for our contestants today? Well Mart, we have Vodka, Gin, Whiskey, Scotch, Rum, Tequila - all the usual suspects. Guys? You're good sorts! Do you want your drinks on ice or straight up? Here's to you Bob!

Posted by: Martin Calle on August 21, 2007 8:30 PM

I can unequivocally prove that Kinder's (Boschetto's boyfriend) Draftworks is a black hole money drain. They couldn't get there own work done and had to pilfer people from the original studio. Saw bills of thousands of dollars for outside photography while FCB has a state-of-the-art digital photo studio. Before FCB the entire NY Draft office didn't even have a single wide format printer, in-house retouching or scanning. This is the only major agency in modern times that had operated this way. All were sent out no matter how hard we attempted to create an in-housse profit center. Shades of the immortal Mitch Mousalem of Grey fame (who is now head of license plate development upstate). Bet the house that an unfavorable P&L report meant the honest Mr. Oates' demise. Then he was bought off in severence to not reveal. THESE "PEOPLE" (per George: Huey, Dewey, Louie - and per me Screwy (Kinder) are CRIMINALS.

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