The verdict is in: Seifert guilty of shirking sentence

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A jury of Ad Age readers was almost unanimous in its verdict that Shona Seifert, the former Ogilvy & Mather executive convicted of defrauding the federal government, failed in her court-ordered task to create a code of ethics for the ad industry.

"Ms. Seifert's `code of ethics' read more like a pouty, spoiled child's response to being grounded than it did a code of ethics," wrote Mary Tavernini, VP, Vitamin Shoppe, North Bergen, N.J. "She clearly feels like a victim of circumstance and used this opportunity to vent and finger-point."

Some questioned the assignment itself. "It's hypocritical for any individual to preach a `code of ethics' after having been convicted of violating basic rules of law," wrote Richard Israel, VP-sales, Informative, Brisbane, Calif. Said Curt Craighead, managing partner at Best Light Communications, "Judge Berman's sentencing of Seifert to include the writing of a code of ethics struck me as akin to asking Orson Welles to write a fitness manual."

Leah Neaderthal, a business-development executive at Arc Worldwide, Chicago, wrote, "Ms. Seifert's code of ethics read like the voice-over track on a mood piece or company-orientation video. The document lacked any real substance, instead preferring broad, sweeping statements that said practically nothing. If I were the judge, I'd send her back to the drawing board. And this time, leave the copywriter at home."

"This was not a legitimate effort," opined Mike Smock, managing director at vSente, San Francisco. "Ms. Seifert used this as an opportunity to promote herself."

There were a few positive reviews. Wrote Jim Seybert, of Arroyo Grande, Calif., "Progress is made any time an industry can have positive dialogue about critical issues. In this instance, the judge's action was a bit of an oxymoron, but the end result raised the level of conversation-and that's a good thing."

Robert Munro, director of LHRM Consulting, Auckland, New Zealand, wrote: "Shona Seifert's code is brief and to the point. Contrary to the majority vote so far I believe it is adequate. If a reader still has some issues understanding the right or wrong way to behave after reading the draft code they shouldn't be in the business."

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What you say:

93% of voters thought that Shona Seifert’s proposed ethics code was inadequate. The remaining 7% of the 2,167 voters to the print and online poll thought that any dialogue on ethics is a good idea. But the overwhelming feeling was that Ms. Seifert’s guidelines missed the mark and her tone was glib and self-promoting.

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