Sunday, May 17, 2015

The Silence of McCann

As we all get settled into watching the series finale of Mad Men, let's take a look back at the half-season: the good guys of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce (SCDP) have been bought by the evil machine of McCann Erickson.

And once they get fully swallowed up and SCDP gets put out to pasture, the pure lechery of the firm comes to the forefront. They only care about the big accounts, they don't respect women in the workplace or treat them as sex objects / weekenders, it's a man's world, it's life as a cog at a large agency, etc. You're likely watching the show, you know what's being shown.

Now, the first time that McCann showed up on MadMen, the New York office decided to respond after the principals refuse to become part of the agency and start their own agency (the above-noted SCDP) - with some choice quotes about McCann

The McCann response was clever - if not typical advertising heavy-handedness - with ads taken out in the trade press, as well as a video on the NY website with clips of each time McCann was mentioned (just the name, not the comments about the agency). 

The time around, the agency and/or the New York office have been silent. I'm sure that the agency and parent company (IPG, woohoo, I'm a #shareholder!) took a minute to discuss the best way to respond the way the agency has been portrayed (yes, a different agency from the early 70's but still the agency).

But it's been silent. Or crickets. Or I've missed a response (but that'd be surprising since I read the trades too). EDIT: I did miss the one article on how McCann has been posting [specious] tweets to MadMen. But specious is the best way to put it, typical advertising one-way messaging that ignores the elephant but jokes about it and dances around it.

And that's sad. And a bit of a bad public relations strategy. When the industry (PR, which is part of the industry as we're all owned by a handful of holding companies) gets called out for a lack of diversity - did PR Week purposely only interview CEO's to showcase it, or was that just irony? - and a lack of female leadership, you'd think that the holding companies would want to respond to a top and pretty well-watched show's characterization of the agency.

Or the agency could have done a video with leadership dressed in the same 70's style noting that they're not the same agency, and it's a different world. Have a bit of fun, but still address the issue. And while the leadership of the agency and the leadership of the NY office do seem a bit homogenous, it's not as bad as it was. Okay, it's a little bad but not as bad.

In an industry that is about perception versus reality, and all about appearance, the silence is deafening. And for an industry that's about creativity, there could have been so much more done. Even the first response wasn't that creative, but this could have been so much more - and a call to continued diversity and more in the industry.

But instead, silence speaks volumes. 
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