Leo Burnett called his farewell address, "When to Take My Name Off the Door." The legendary figure who brought us Charlie the Tuna, Jolly Green Giant, Tony the Tiger, and Pillsbury Doughboy gave this heartfelt speech shortly before his 1967 retirement from the advertising powerhouse now known as Leo Burnett Worldwide. (Yes, his name is still on the door.)
Burnett was born in the 19th century, and his words are hopelessly antiquated, but I hope you give this seven-minute video a serious look. Chicago's salt-of-the-earth advertising giant saw it all coming: merger mania, the obsession with short-term profits, and the spinelessness. I wonder what he'd think of 21st century agency life.
Leo died just four years after giving this speech.
Recently a company we worked with years ago ran into big-time public relations problems.
Our shop developed their most responsive direct marketing ever, and helped successfully launch a new product.
The business was run by extremely opinionated people who didn't appreciate dissenting views. We believe in telling clients what they need to hear, rather than simply what they want to hear, so we suspected the relationship would end sooner rather than later.
One day we received an email from the client asking us to participate in a conference call to talk about an important marketing season. They asked us to share fresh ideas.
I thought long and hard about their options and came up with a kick-ass list. When the meeting started our main client contact read off the plans they decided on for the season. They had absolutely no interest in other ideas. I tossed my list in the can.
Eventually they pushed aside everyone but the yes-men and yes-women. That turned out to be an extremely costly mistake.
They got greedy and were hammered in the press. It was one of those moves we would have warned them about the moment we heard about it. But I imagine all the suck-ups had to say was "Great idea!"
Smart people willing to share dissenting views are often the most important contributors in marketing. Why do you think so many executives push them away? And is there a way to keep this from happening?
OK, I confess. This is a shameless plug for a short video created by our direct marketing agency, Mothers of Invention. It's for Voltaire, a firm that makes data centers more efficient and effective.
In our Fabric Man video, we present the advantages of unified fabric, which carries all server communication and storage traffic on a single wire. It replaces the insane collection of wires you may have seen in photos. Energy costs go down, applications run better, and chief information officers get to make love more often.