The Omnicom shareholders meeting last week provided some unexpected comic relief when PR industry trade journalist Jack O'Dwyer stood up at Q&A time, and rattled off a Top 10 list of Omnicom follies. Company executives never return his calls, he whined, echoing a standup routine he performed at an Interpublic shareholders' meeting the previous week. "Do you have a question?" asked a cordial Bruce Crawford, chairman of the company. "Yes, I have many," said O'Dwyer, who then incoherently rambled about corporate conspiracies. "How do we know you are not buying cement factories?" Jack railed. John Wren, CEO, smiled and said, "I can assure you we are not buying cement factories." The suits in attendance, about 25 of them, chuckled at that, which angered Jack. "This is not funny," he said. "You have no respect for the press! This is more like Iran or Turkey here."
O'Dwyer's performance inspired a follow-up act. A Briton, who identified himself as a shareholder, asked why the Omnicom annual report had no illustrations or pictures. He picked up a BBDO annual review and opened a gatefold with animal photos. "See, even BBDO has cats and mice," he said. "With all the talent at your disposal, why not show some creativity?" Then the Brit pulled out WPP Group's annual report and waved it about. "See, they have cartoons." Wren was not amused. He said Omni-com's performance last year was superior to his competitors: "They should concentrate on that rather than on the design of their annual reports." Crawford chimed in: "We think [WPP chief] Sir Martin [Sorrell] is wasting his money." The Brit stammered a reply: "I'll tell Martin you said so when I see him."
Telemundo President-CEO Jim McNamara is considering a new career. He recently starred as a convict who leads a prison breakout in a program that previewed at the U.S. Hispanic TV upfront. The show was part of a Telemundo presentation meant to dramatize its fast ratings growth and improved programming, but Jim's stellar acting stunned the industry. He admits bootleg tapes are already circulating.
"It's key to always have a fallback position," he says. "In the entertainment business, you're in one day and out the next. When I get the boot, I'll try to get a Screen Actors Guild card and become an unemployed actor and waiter."
Next month, Phaidon Press will put out "Advertising Today," a book by Warren Berger, contributing editor at Wired and a frequent contributor to Advertising Age's Creativity. It's just in time for a good summer read, that is, if you don't mind lugging an 8-pound brick to the beach. "It's the biggest advertising book ever," Warren crows. "It's really large." Not only does it have heft, it has lots of great pictures, especially the cover shot of a man with a toilet for a mouth. "A couple of advertising executives who have seen it have asked me, `Are you making a statement about advertising?"' says Warren. "Actually, I'm not. That's a real ad created by Y&R's Brazilian office for a mouthwash. The literal translation of the ad is `Do you have toilet mouth?"' There is a chapter in the book, however, that claims TV ads contain more bathroom humor than ever before. This is a thesis that self-styled advertising decency czar and DDB chief Keith Reinhard certainly would agree with. "In a way that part of the book ties into that cover image," Warren concedes. "But mostly we just chose the image because it was striking."
With reporting by Laurel Wentz
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