Adages - Not the simple life: Adman's apartment a mirror of the man

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The ultra-slick crib of Kevin Roberts, CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi Worldwide, is featured in theJanuary issue of Conde Nast Publications' Architectural Digest. It's a spartan pad with lots of hard surfaces and sharp edges, a reflection of the executive who lives there, some say. However, this minimalist New York habitat, like a piece of work by James Turrell, a modern master of art-world illusions, is deceiving. The joint is simple but obviously didn't come cheap. It was designed by Sam Trimble, a top drawer Aussie architect, and in the entry way boasts a costly showpiece by none other than Turrell himself. Roberts is quoted as saying he wanted a New York home base that was "cozy and protective," and it does look a bit like a fortress of solitude. A cynic might remark that the austerity of Robert's digs is also a reflection of the measures he will be taking soon at Saatchi. With last month's loss of $185 million in Johnson & Johnson business, including key account Tylenol, Saatchi is expected to lay off a good number of employees who worked on those accounts.

Flack meets Spike

Speaking of Mr. Roberts, he participated in a panel discussion and debate with Al Ries, co-author of "The Fall of Advertising and Rise of PR," during Procter & Gamble Co.'s Buzzpoint summit last month. It was an event that Mr. Ries will not soon forget. The PR advocate noticed a man in the audience with spiky white hair who was studiously taking notes, and later, this fellow approached Mr. Ries and told him he loved the book "Positioning," which Mr. Ries also co-authored. The spiky-haired fan said the book helped shape his thinking on marketing. Ries admits he didn't discover until much later the guy was P&G Chairman-CEO A.G. Lafley, subject of cover profiles in Fortune, Forbes and Business Week over the past two years. So Al, tell us again, how effective is good PR?

The execution will not be televised

Jon Stewart has a killer idea for a new reality show. "If [broadcast] networks try to become more like cable," said the host of Comedy Central's "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart," "look for the cable guys to televise an execution to stay ahead." Not such a far-fetched notion. Back in 1977, the execution of convicted murderer Gary Gilmore was a TV event. Though cameras weren't invited in when a Utah firing squad gunned him down, several journalists witnessed it and reported the details.

Mr. Stewart's macabre idea was delivered as a riposte in a panel discussion at an MTV-sponsored forum on reality shows last week. Mr. Stewart shared the stage with Stacey Lynn Koerner, Initivative Media's director of global research integration, and Fox News Channel contributor Neal Gabler. But Stewart stole the show.

He refused to toe the company line of cable's superiority over broadcast-he took shots at both. In a nod to MTV CEO Tom Freston and his minions, sprinkled among the audience, Stewart complained that the broadcast networks vet too much of their programming while cable is more nimble because it's less slavish to demos and advertiser demands. "[Broadcast] networks still operate like the British redcoats, whereas the cable guys are the minutemen in the trees, screaming `I can't believe you're still wearing red."' But, Stewart added, "let's face it, a lot of cable programming blows, too." Stewart said he wouldn't be surprised if both sides wind up ratcheting up the shock meter.

Contributing Hank Kim, Jack Neff Send reality TV ideas to rlinnett@crain.com

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