Not even surprised
Most, in fact, weren't even surprised about the firing, given the culture clash between the conservative retailer and the bold Ms. Roehm, until recently senior VP-marketing communications. Ms. Roehm was let go after violating Wal-Mart's strict ethics policy that bans taking even a free cup of coffee from a vendor.
Among her alleged missteps was attending a lavish dinner thrown by DraftFCB -- which was later awarded the account -- and endorsing the agency to search consultants also in attendance. She is also said to have accepted a ride in an Aston Martin owned by DraftFCB Chairman-CEO Howard Draft. And there are also reports -- strenuously denied by both parties -- that Ms. Roehm engaged in an improper personal relationship with a Wal-Mart colleague, Sean Womack.
"Ms. Roehm clearly did not understand her employer," said Sharon Morgan, a marketing-communications consultant. "The really odd thing is how she was even chosen in the first place!"
'Wrong for them'
Wal-Mart "should stick to their model of success: conservative, simple, low budget, and family values. A high-profile, edgy campaign is wrong for them, and so are the people that go with it," said Michael Margolies, VP-creative services for Benchmark Brands.
But some questioned Wal-Mart's booting of its change agent. "It seems like she was trying to change [Wal-Marts's] tired image. I don't necessarily agree with the path she chose, but it would have been interesting to see how it would have panned out," said Michelle Contois, a sales and marketing assistant for Lock Inspection Systems.
Others found no fault in Ms. Roehm's behavior. "Agencies offer up their best face (and dinner selection) when trying to snag a $580 million dollar client," said Adrienne Mansfield, regional media planner for Gregory Welteroth Advertising. "Ms. Roehm didn't partake in anything any more inappropriate than any other marketing consultant/rep does when being 'schmoozed' by a prospective agency."