Marketing: for humans or machines?

Johnnie Moore

I’m Johnnie Moore, and I help people work better together

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Katherine Stone comments on what sounds like a crazy workaholic mindset at Y&R

Diane Brady has written a very interesting BusinessWeek article (March 29 issue) about Ann Fudge. Ann recently became the CEO of Young & Rubicam after spending a couple of years in retirement journaling cycling, traveling, serving on boards and spending time with her family. What stood out in the article was this: a lot of grumbling and whining from the folks at Y&R that Ann may not be the right person for the job because she retired.

She took a few years off, so she must not be relentless enough to run their company. Brady writes that in our culture “… leaving is a sign of weakness, a sometimes unforgivable lack of ambition.” She adds that, “A surprising number doubt — quietly for now, anyway — that a woman who openly hugs fellow execs and values her life beyond the workplace can raise Y&R to new creative and financial heights. As one senior executive puts it: ‘I just don’t know if someone who can spend months on a bicycle has the 24/7 drive we need.'”

This Ann Fudge sounds interesting to me. I read in the latest copy of Research (British Market Research Sociey Mag), that a week or so into the job, she set a challenge for her colleagues. After looking at the contracts page in AdMap she said “I never want to see our name on this page. I never want us to be seen publicly pitching for business. We should not play that game”. She was basically saying she wanted businesses to come for organic growth – building existing relationships and getting word-of-mouth referrals. No cold pitches. No wonder the workaholics panicked when she arrived, they would not be able to do all those late nights desperately pitching for work they’d likely not win.

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