Geier Roast a Slow Burn

}Dubbed “Geier on the Fire,” last week’s roast of longtime IPG boss Phil Geier featured a string of witty-yet-soft gibes, cigar-chomping impressions and embarrassing anecdotes. The guest of honor, looking unusually comfortable in front of a microphone, even managed to get in a few choice retorts himself. Still, the comments turned out to be so tame that Geier was busy softening his own rebuttal while others spoke.

Held at Cipriani’s 42nd Street, a cavernous former bank, the event attracted an estimated crowd of 500 that included former and current IPG players, such as Frank Lowe, Lee Garfinkel and Stone Roberts as well as Donny Deutsch, Allen Rosenshine and Phil Joanou. After dinner, John Dooner, Geier’s heir apparent—or”air-head apparent,” as John Bergin called him—led a karaoke chorus of “My Geier,” sung to the tune of “My Guy.” Sample lyrics: “Who smokes cigars that smell like GM cars?/It’s my Geier. Which king of bad attire will no longer be our sire?/It’s my Geier.” Backed by placard-carrying models and a piano, IPG consultant Barry Day positioned Geier as a future presidential candidate, leading a chorus of “Go With Geier!” Actor Christopher Plummer, Geier’s neighbor and tennis partner, recited an original limerick with lines such as, “Philip the Geier has the right kind of ire to set the advertising world on fire,” while longtime NBC big wig Bob Wright recalled Geier’s salad days at Colgate University, where he dated Joan Bennett and was known as “Deals Geier.”

Bergin, the former BBDO and McCann-Erickson executive, lived up to his billing as “roast master,” describing Geier as “founder of IPG—a program he calls, “affirmative firing,” before adding, “Phil Geier believes in one credo: God helps those who helps himself. … He has helped himself very freely over the years.” The most cutting remark came from Rosenshine, who noted Geier’s penchant for buying “meaningless companies” and suggested—amid some boos—that he make a run for True North. He said, “It’s hard to believe someone with so little creative talent could have gotten so far in the advertising business.” Geier, however, got the last laugh. “Although I’m the one on the fire, I can still fire people.”

Maybe that’s why no one had the nerve to really mouth off.