Ogilvy sacrifices cow for Wal-Mart account

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Last Wednesday, one of the Adages helper monkeys decided to take advantage of a bright sunny New York day and play hooky from work (she shall remain nameless ... at least until the end of this column). As luck would have it, she stumbled across a veritable commotion at Worldwide Plaza: music, the smell of grilling meat and lots of people milling about in blue Wal-Mart T-shirts.

Seeing as there are no Wal-Marts in New York City, and seeing as how the Ogilvy offices front Worldwide Plaza, and seeing as how Ogilvy is in the Wal-Mart review, our young reporter put two and two together and did what all good journalists do: She helped herself to some free food.

Apparently, Ogilvy was having a "barbecue" in honor of Wal-Mart visiting the offices. We put barbecue in quotation marks because they were actually grilling hot dogs, hamburgers and chicken breast. We don't have the time or space to lecture our reporter or the city slicker at Ogilvy about the difference between barbecuing and grilling.

But we digress. At any rate, the agency went all out. Live music, Wal-Mart T-shirts and buttons, red-gingham tablecloths, Sam's Choice bottled water, beer, and lots and lots of meat (wasted on our vegetarian reporter). Ogilvy employees overtook the plaza to set the mood, to eat and drink, and to put on bright, shiny smiles for a possible $570 million account.

Apparently, the gathered throng had also been instructed to turn toward the building and cheer when the music started, signaling the appearance of the executive team, which included Wal-Mart's Julie Roehm and Ogilvy's Shelly Lazarus, on the stage. (At this point, one staffer was overheard saying: "This is a bit much. It's like when Ty Pennington yells, 'Bus driver, move that bus!' on 'Extreme Home Makeover.' ")

And while folks with cameras weren't allowed in the plaza (hence the grassy-knoll shot topping this column), Roehm whipped out her own and took a shot of the crowd.

Later, Jeffrey Wilks, senior partner and managing director of strategic growth and development, thanked the cheering employees and said the exit from the building/entrance to the BBQ with the potential client was "emotional."

After Roehm hugged Lazarus goodbye, the Wal-Mart marketing officer told our intrepid young reporter that the barbecue (ahem, grill) was "fun" (and asked her not to write about it).

The renowned Mr. Brown

Our helper monkey wasn't the only one getting into food-related parties last week. Adages also crashed the kickoff party for the Food Network's latest limited series, "Feasting on Asphalt with Alton Brown." We happen to be huge fans of Alton Brown and his show "Good Eats." (Once a commercial director, Brown quit to go to culinary school, thought up the concept of "Good Eats," produced a demo tape and, in essence, cold-called Food Network at a time when it didn't look at unsolicited submissions.) The party was held at a place called Hog Pit, which at least claims to know the difference between barbecuing and grilling, so we simply had to go.

We got a chance to talk to Brown for a moment or two. Turns out cracklin' cornbread and tenderloin biscuits weren't the only things he ate while making the show. He literally feasted on asphalt when he dumped his BMW 1200RT motorcycle outside of Vegas, breaking his clavicle. Keep an eye out for that in episode four.

Stevens may take his tubes to TV

He's been repeatedly derided for his not-entirely-elegant statement in a Senate committee that the internet is "not a big truck. It's a series of tubes. Those tubes can get filled." The remarks have spawned a fan site on MySpace and, at last count, two segments on Comedy Central's "The Daily Show" that have spread across the web faster than, well, Jon Stewart's smirk.

So how does Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, at age 83, feel about the ridicule? "It's a free country," he said, adding that if he was offered a guest shot on the TV show, "I'd consider it." A spokesman for Comedy Central had no immediate comment on whether Mr. Stevens would be asked to appear.

We have to say this in Stevens' defense: He was talking about the very confusing "net neutrality" issue. So cut Stevens some slack. It's not like he was proposing a bridge to nowhere. Oh. Wait.

Contributing: Willow Duttge, Ira Teinowitz Sneak on over to kwheaton@crain.com
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