Yahoo makes monkeys out of tech consumers

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Adages was green with envy last week when, in the middle of a meeting, Advertising Age reporter Willow Duttge came through the door and informed us she'd just had an encounter with a chimpanzee. Readers of this column know that Adages comes down squarely in the pro-ape camp, so hearing that we'd missed out on an opportunity to meet one in person was almost heartbreaking. The opportunity was presented by Yahoo, which apparently is rolling in so much cash it can still afford to hire apes. Yahoo, promoting Yahoo Tech, had visitors race against a chimp to see who could take a digital photograph, take out the memory card and print it first.

Duttge was relieved that she bested the chimp in said contest-as were her colleagues. "I was pretty nervous," she said. "I've never had to prove I'd actually evolved beyond a monkey before. What if I lost? I mean, that seemed like one smart monkey-even though she was in diapers and really enjoyed chewing on her T-shirt."

And it was indeed a smart simian. Sable is 6 years old (that's almost retirement age, by the way), once worked for NASA and was specially trained to perform the camera trick.

"The way that the monkey uses a trainer to learn how to take a digital photo is how consumers can use Yahoo Tech to do the same thing," said Bennett Porter, senior director of Yahoo's Buzz Marketing.

Of course, we have to wonder what those who lost to Sable felt like. "Let's face it, we've all felt like a monkey when setting up a computer," said Porter.

Oh, yeah. That'll make them feel better.

Agency employee of the century

Considering Adages' family history, it's hard to imagine living almost 60 years. So we're still trying to wrap our mind around Stanley Rygor, a senior VP-account supervisor at Doremus, New York. Stanley started at the company in January 1947 in the mailroom and is just now retiring at the age of 80. In 1947, NBC was the only commercial TV station, there were eight major daily papers in New York City and people worked half days every Saturday. Oh, and people could still work their way up from the mailroom. Says Stanley: "There's nobody that rises from the mailroom these days. Regrettably." But after serving in the Navy as an armed guard aboard the SS Lord Delaware during WWII, Stanley came back home and did just that. It wasn't long before someone got fired and he took a $30-a-week job in production (up from $25 a week). The rest, as they say, is history. He worked mostly on "tombstone ads" for financial-services firms and recounted working with one Charles Morgan. "I always called him Mr. Morgan and he always called me Stan," says Stanley with a chuckle.

Stanley also had what they call a "work ethic," never taking a sick day or personal day in his many years at Doremus. He even walked to work from Queens during both of the New York transit strikes.

"I think I speak for all of us when I say how grateful we are, Stan, that you were never in charge of setting the HR policy!" said Carl Anderson, president-CEO of Doremus, during a speech in Stanley's honor.

And while Stanley admitted to Adages prior to the party that he doubted he'd get through his big retirement speech without choking up-"It's gonna kill me. I don't know how I'm gonna do it"-he did have a life outside of work. In July, he and wife Kathleen (they met in an Irish dance hall here in the States) will celebrate 54 years of marriage. They had five children and nine grandchildren (one of which he was babysitting when Adages spoke to him). On top of that, Stanley ran four New York City Marathons in his 50s and treks down to Dempsey's Pub in the East Village every Tuesday night to play Irish music-he plays the button accordion-with his mates. And he travels to Ireland every year.

Which he'll being doing soon again. Instead of a gold watch, Doremus presented Stanley with two roundtrip tickets to Ireland and $5,000 in spending cash.

Any words of wisdom from Stanley? Says the man who was at one job for more years than many agencies last: "If there's any kind of advice I would give, it's stick it out."

Contributing: Willow Duttge

Dance a jig with kwheaton@crain.com
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