On Twitter Ketchum Exec Trashes Memphis, Home to Client FedEx

james_andrews.jpg

So you're an agency executive on your way to make a presentation to your client. A big client. A really big client. You land. You get off the plane. You head to your destination. You launch Twitter and write, "True confession but I'm in one of those towns where I scratch my head and say 'I would die if I had to live here!'"

Then, an employee at the client company sees the tweet, gets upset and fires off an email expressing offense to the tweet...and cc's agency and client management.

The agency executive? Ketchum VP James Andrews.

The client? FedEx...based in Memphis.

Oops. Big oops.

Ah, the never ending dangers of a 140 character tweet.

In fairness to Andrews, he explained his tweet was "the emotional response to a run in I had with an intolerant individual." Hey, it happens to everyone. We have a bad situation. We get angry. We express the anger.

Though now we have all kinds of public outlets through which to express anger for all to see and with that comes the dangers of misinterpretation which is what Andrews has termed this situation.

We're sure James Andrews is a nice guy. We're sure he meant no personal offense to those living in Memphis. We're sure it was just a genuine reaction to a crappy situation.

One commenter calls the whole thing an overreaction, writing, "wow. this isn't @keyinfluencer's mistake. it's a ridiculous overreaction that was then shared with execs making a splash for what should have been a non-issue. People who live in small cities are always trying to prove something. They exhibit irrational pride for their little slice of nowhere. Seriously. Who cares? If James said he would die if he had to live in LA, no client would even take notice. Of if they did notice they certainly wouldn't care. They definitely wouldn't ship it to a gaggle of senior leaders at both companies. But talk about Memphis.....and it's ON. Give me a break people. Lighten up."

by Steve Hall    Jan-16-09   Click to Comment   
Topic: Agencies, Social, Strange   

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Comments



Comments

Yeah, OK, points made, but isn't he supposed to be an expert on PR, digital communication, social media, etc., and if so, aren't we justified in expecting him to know better?

And he says he was upset with an individual and not actually dissing an entire town, but I think we know better. I've lived in some of the biggest cities in the world, but I've also lived in a relatively small city in the Midwest, and I was forever amazed at the snotty "flyover country" remarks clients felt perfectly comfortable making. Anyone who's lived in a C-list town knows exactly what I'm talking about -- and fully recognizes James Andrews' snarky comment for what it was.

And to that I say, who raised him that he doesn't know better than to insult a person's home? Client or not. It's just rude. Period.

And rudeness really does wear me out.

PS: don't get me started on all the "new friends" BS he was flinging around after. What a prat.

Posted by: Elise on January 16, 2009 4:32 PM

Or, you know, maybe not! To be charitable, I guess we don't know what set him off, it's hard to say.

But seriously. He should have known better.

Posted by: Elise on January 16, 2009 4:42 PM

I don't know... He joked that he'd want to die if he lived there. It's a jokey comment, maybe people need to get a sense of humor. I'm thinking about just shutting off my Twitter account - the world is too much with us.

Posted by: Sean on January 16, 2009 4:48 PM

He broke one of the cardinal rules of advertising: know thy audience. Sorry, but his gaffe is an example of poor brand management.

Posted by: Patchchord on January 16, 2009 5:05 PM

Oh PLEASE. He dissed a TOWN. So what?

It'd be different if he'd talked about his clients being jerks, or made a racist joke, or was otherwise *abusive*... but a town? come on.

Posted by: Kathi on January 16, 2009 6:05 PM

as one who lives in a small (but utterly charming) city in the south, I can assure you people take slights against their home town VERY seriously, especially when it comes from NYers. the reaction of the folks in Memphis was totally predictable. and someone who claims to be as social media savvy as Andrews should have known that.

it's like being invited to dinner at your boss's home, and the first thing you say is 'my god what an ugly daughter you have -- do you really let her out of the house?'

more thoughts here: http://blogs.computerworld.com/stupid_twitter_tricks

cheers,

dt

Posted by: dantynan on January 17, 2009 7:40 PM

Reminds me of last December's "We hate tourists from Cleveland" story: http://blog.cleveland.com/metro/2008/12/broadway_exec_lets_slip_we_hat.html

Posted by: Mark Baratelli on January 17, 2009 8:06 PM

Based on reading a variety of tweets, here's a suggested list of words that aren't synonymous with "tweet about" that this guy from Ketchum should have read in advance.

Posted by: Mike Brown on January 18, 2009 12:25 AM

Based on reading a variety of tweets, here's a suggested list of words that aren't synonymous with "tweet about" that this guy from Ketchum should have read in advance.

Posted by: Mike Brown on January 18, 2009 12:26 AM

To solve the problem, I think FedEx should move out of dingy Memphis. And if you can't realize it, this is my attempt at humor.

Posted by: mickey361 on January 18, 2009 11:57 AM

Just to correct what appears to be one mis-impression about Memphis. It isn't exactly "small". It isn't huge but, depending upon whose statistics you use the population of the metro area is 1 to 2 million. There are somewhere between 30 to 40K FedEx employees in Memphis. Just the employees alone would make up what I'd think of as a small town.

Posted by: Tom on January 19, 2009 12:29 PM

Open mouth, insert foot. It isn't rocket science. But some people just don't know when to speak and when to keep it zipped. Not that anyone really cares that much about what you think or say.

Posted by: rob earl on January 19, 2009 2:16 PM

Open mouth, insert foot. It isn't rocket science. But some people just don't know when to speak and when to keep it zipped. Not that anyone really cares that much about what you think or say.

Posted by: rob earl on January 19, 2009 2:18 PM

It shouldn't have been a tweet - it should have been a txt.

Posted by: Mary Baum on January 19, 2009 2:24 PM

I'm kinda wondering now, where he lives?

I think it's a pretty simple mistake, that's a given when you put yourself in the hands of anything like Twitter/Facebook/Myspace...

But when has any of us NOT been subject to f**ing up? Sooo...

Posted by: L9 on January 19, 2009 2:30 PM

I'm kinda wondering now, where he lives?

I think it's a pretty simple mistake, that's a given when you put yourself in the hands of anything like Twitter/Facebook/Myspace...

But when has any of us NOT been subject to f**ing up? Sooo...

Posted by: L9 on January 19, 2009 2:30 PM

I'm kinda wondering now, where he lives?

I think it's a pretty simple mistake, that's a given when you put yourself in the hands of anything like Twitter/Facebook/Myspace...

But when has any of us NOT been subject to f**ing up? Sooo...

Posted by: L9 on January 19, 2009 2:33 PM

A famous politician or writer (can't remember) once said "I've never regretted something I didn't say."

Good advice.

Posted by: adrefugee on January 19, 2009 2:35 PM

WHO CARES what some jackhole who works for your ad agency tweets? And I've lived in Memphis. Now I don't. There's a reason for that. And it wasn't because it was such a "charming Southern city". Check the FBI's crime rankings. Maybe Andrews hit a little too close to home. As far as people taking "slights against their home town VERY seriously" esp. from NY'ers....we all know NY'ers are dbags...they'll even admit it. But who cares what some NYer or anyone else for that matter says about your city? Are you the f'in mayor? I take murder, child abuse...etc... "VERY seriously"... NOT some thoughtless dips**ts tweets. Rethink your priorities about getting "slighted".

Posted by: Anonymous - deal with it on January 19, 2009 3:01 PM

Social transparency is a bitch when your fing name is slapped all over it. Blow off the steam with a pen name. Ahem... that's what I've been doin' fo years, brah.

An advertising executive incapable of formulating the simple aforementioned reality is the real story here.

If you are separating people from their money you don't fing reference their place of abode as non-livable.

Posted by: Agile Cyborg on January 19, 2009 7:06 PM

For many other companies I might agree, but Fedex, both as a brand and as an employer, closely identifies with their hometown of Memphis. It's almost like representing Broadway theaters and tweeting NY stinks.

Posted by: Ephraim Cohen on January 21, 2009 11:26 AM

For many other companies I might agree, but Fedex, both as a brand and as an employer, closely identifies with their hometown of Memphis. It's almost like representing Broadway theaters and tweeting NY stinks.

Posted by: Ephraim Cohen on January 21, 2009 11:26 AM

For many other companies I might agree, but Fedex, both as a brand and as an employer, closely identifies with their hometown of Memphis. It's almost like representing Broadway theaters and tweeting NY stinks.

Posted by: Ephraim Cohen on January 21, 2009 11:27 AM

I think far too much has already been written about this all over the net anyway (appropriately enough I guess). Not the end of the world by any means BUT he did offend a multi-million dollar client (it's immaterial if we think it was offensive or not). A bad move whichever way you try and slice it.

My two pennies worth is just a simple, yet great, coinage I was told by a wise old man in Toronto some time ago:

"A closed mouth gathers no foot"

Posted by: Tom Quinn on January 21, 2009 1:25 PM


As someone who's worked with clients, wise guys from places like New York or worse--Boston and as a resident of a charming southern city with a daughter about to go to the Memphis College of Art, I have to concur with others here and suggest Mr. Andrews count to ten the next time he criticizes an entire community for the actions of an individual.

It smarts because southerners and their culture often don't get a break or a second chance. An educated, savvy person knows there's a lot more to "the south" than meets the eye or what you may see in the media. I say that as a transplanted New Yorker, by the way.

Posted by: tony the pitiful copywriter on April 30, 2009 11:33 AM







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