By Published on .

Forget it, IPG, this ain't Chinatown

Nobody likes bad news, least of all reporters. When companies stumble or fail, ad pages go down in newspapers, magazines and trade publications like this one. We are all affected by the slumping economy, and yet we have to report on it. That's the job.

There are some in the advertising industry, however, who apparently are of the opinion that trade journalists insist on torturing companies with negative stories. For example, check out Interpublic Exec VP Barry Linsky's internal memo, which was leaked to Adages:

"To: Executive Council

From: Barry Linsky

Although this has been previously communicated (several times), it apparently bears repeating. Please do not make any announcements about office closings or headcount reductions and please do not respond to any press inquiries regarding same. If pressed to do so, please check with Interpublic (Kathryn Woods or myself) first.

We see no reason to contribute to this `Chinese water torture' of negative trade press stories. If they insist on writing them (instead of highlighting whatever positive signs that may emerge in this economy), let them do so without citing Interpublic or its companies. ... Being mentioned in these stories hurts our employee morale, our clients' confidence and our share price."

Kathryn, Interpublic's spokeswoman, says the agency announced massive layoffs shortly after the company acquired True North and did not feel compelled to put out information in "dribs and drabs" about subsequent lesser layoffs at Interpublic agencies.

Meanwhile, Interpublic's FCB, San Francisco, office has let go more than a dozen staffers as of last week as AT&T Wireless winds up its work. Looks like somebody didn't get the memo.

Ring of fire

Crispin Porter Bogusky's Los Angeles office opened for business on an auspicious day, Sept. 10, 2001. The following morning the World Trade Center was attacked by terrorists and it seemed as if the world closed for business, at least for a time. Coincidentally, Crispin's new offices in sunny Venice, Calif., are in a former firehouse. "Right now, ad budgets are up in flames," says Sally Hogshead, president of Crispin West. "So it is only appropriate that we would open up in a firehouse." So far, Crispin West hasn't even got a whiff of smoke; they have yet to score an account. As Sally probably realizes by now, "hose humpers" spend most of their time waiting for calls, answering false alarms and responding to "meat on the stove," in other words small kitchen fires.

High wireless act

Lynn Apel, senior production executive at Saatchi & Saatchi, had scheduled a commercial job in early September. "We were supposed to fly to Vancouver on Sept. 11th," Lynn recounts. "And then the planes came," she says, referring to hijackers who used passenger jets as missiles to attack New York.

Needless to say, Ms. Apel, her client and agency staff refused to fly. So she was faced with a choice, cancel the job or find a new location. She did better.

"I managed to hook up a satellite company to have a remote satellite truck follow the director on location. We sat in a big conference room in New York for 16 hours and we watched a live feed of our shoot go on in Vancouver. We never met the director, so we made him stick his face in the camera."

The cost of the job? "It was the same as flying us all out there," Lynn says.

Contributing: Alice Z. Cuneo and Rich Thomaselli

Keep those internal documents coming to [email protected]

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