Is Adland Rife With Sandwich-Stealing Mean Girls?

Arnold Employee Rats Out Frenemies in Financial Post

By Published on .

I've been writing about agencies for years now, and have always known them to be fast-paced, incredibly demanding places of work, often fraught with politics and places where big egos are typically not in short supply.

But never had I thought of them as a lot like high school, until I read this account of agency life, as told to the Financial Post.

Here's an excerpt from the piece, titled "How to Spot a Frenemy at Work." (BTW, can we please retire that term, popularized by Martin Sorrell's discussion some years ago of Google?)

On Sarah Cook's, 28, first day as an account assistant job at Boston-based advertising agency Arnold , she was welcomed by a group of women who asked her to lunch, inquired after her personal life and offered themselves up for advice and support around the office. It wasn't long before Cook was a member of the clique.

"All six of us were working in similar positions and shared the same complaints," Cook says. "We were a total crew, whether we were stealing sandwiches from conference rooms or commiserating about some know-it-all client." But when Cook was unexpectedly promoted to account manager just six months after joining the firm, her friends began to give her the cold shoulder—and worse.

"I understood that there might be some jealousy involved, but I tried to brush it off since we were such good friends," she says. She could take them ignoring personal calls and emails, but when they stopped responding to work-related issues, Cook found herself missing deadlines and worried her career would suffer.

Determined to nip the drama in the bud, Cook gathered her courage and confronted her colleagues at an agency happy hour. "I told them I knew they might have hard feelings towards me over my promotion but that I really hoped it didn't have to affect our careers or our friendship. I really thought we could talk it out." The response was anything but understanding. "It was a total Mean Girls moment," Cook says. "They laughed in my face."

Agency folk, enlighten us in the comments to let us know if sandwich-stealing is rampant and there are a group of "Plastics" who rule the roost at Arnold , or other agencies. [Editor's note: Sandwich-stealing? Really?!?! Grown-ass people are stealing lunches at the office? That's a beating offense as far as I'm concerned.]

We'd also like to know if--like at the end of "Mean Girls"--everyone will make up at the Spring Fling dance, with Ms. Cook breaking her crown into pieces to share with a reclusive planner, an uber fashionable art-buyer and the very colleagues who laughed in her face.

UPDATE: Arnold informs us that it has never heard of a Sarah Cook employed by their agency. The plot thickens! We'll keep you posted.

Most Popular