Also named as defendants in the suit, which charges libel, slander, emotional distress and breach of contract (the suit said Mr. Deutsch signed a non-disparagement agreement when Mr. Dworin left the agency then known as Deutsch Dworin in 1994) are agency CEO Linda Sawyer and the agency, Deutsch Inc.
Mr. Deutsch’s lawyer, Judd Burstein, called the suit “merely a desperate effort by Steve Dworin to convince the world and himself that he is not the cause of his own failures.” In addition, Mr. Burstein gave Advertising Age a letter, dated Feb. 9, written by Mr. Dworin’s counsel, Keith Biebelberg, that says that Mr. Dworin is planning to open his own agency. The letter seems to admit that the lawsuit is, in part, aimed at garnering publicity.
“Under ordinary circumstances, Mr. Dworin would benefit by press coverage of his new undertaking,” states the letter. “Because of Mr. Deutsch’s book, the publicity that this lawsuit will generate is virtually essential to my client’s attempt to counteract the harm that Mr. Deutsch has caused.”
The suit drops a number of top marketing names, including that of former General Motors Corp. honcho Phil Guarascio. Mr. Dworin’s suit alleges that Mr. Deutsch plotted to fool Mr. Guarascio into thinking the agency was larger than it was, suggesting the creation of “an inauthentic phone directory” inflating the shop’s numbers.
Perhaps the most serious allegation in the suit is that the agency generated revenue “improperly, unethically and illegally” through the use of a Deutsch-owned-subsidiary, Jones Films. “Deutsch clients were misled to believe the agency’s producers were fairly and ethically executing the traditional, blind, triple-bid bidding system, yet, unknown to them, they were hiring a Deutsch subsidiary that was given an unfair advantage in bidding. In addition, clients did not know the company was often making money twice,” Mr. Dworin said in the suit.
Among the allegations:
Then there’s the question of ego. The suit charges that Mr. Deutsch’s book characterizes Mr. Dworin as an “ego-driven maniac.” But the suit makes a similar characterization of Mr. Deutsch, calling him “a self-promoted creative big shot” who had “an obsession with the press.” The suit also said Mr. Deutsch’s behavior concerned top agency executives who complained that he “cared only about press for himself, often at the expense of the agency.”
It goes on to chronicle several of Mr. Dworin’s own achievements and press clippings. “Mr. Dworin is widely known within the industry as being ‘smart,’ strategic, conceptual and is perceived to have a gut instinct for client needs, consumer behavior and identifying effective advertising,” the suit states. “So much so that Mr. Deutsch once told Mr. Dworin, ‘You are the best advertising guy I ever saw.’”
The suit states Mr. Dworin was called in the press “a new-business Svengali” and it lists a number of accolades in print, including pieces in The Wall Street Journal (“Agencies are lining up to woo Dworin”), The New York Times (“Ayer Wins Struggle to Land the Industry’s Most-Wanted Man”) and Business Week (“When Dworin left Deutsch Dworin last February, he instantly became the most sought-after executive on Madison Avenue”).