How many second chances does IPG get?

John Foster Dulles once said, “The measure of success is not whether you have a tough problem to deal with, but whether it is same problem you had last year.” On that measure, Interpublic Group’s board of directors must rate an F!

Look at the IPG headlines during the past three years—earnings restatements, new CEOs, new CFOs, shareholder lawsuits, SEC filing difficulties, accounting investigations, debt-rating downgrades, important client losses, stock downgrades, etc.—with emphasis, in each case, on the plural “s.” At least last week brought some new, though ever bleaker news [“Criminal Confessions Rock IPG Shops, Execs,” Adweek, Sept. 19]. I believe the phrases utilized were “violations of the law,” “misappropriation of assets,” “inappropriate customer charges” and “falsified books and records.”

My heart goes out to the employees and clients of this grand old holding company. A once-proud leader, led astray.

As for the shareholders, I feel your pain, but you really ought to oust those who have presided over this mess. Hint: Match the reign of each sitting IPG board director with the time frame of the mess. Then act accordingly. A broom may come in handy.

Hasn’t IPG’s “Groundhog Day” gone on long enough?

James J. Treacy

Former president, COO, Monster; former corporate officer, WPP Group and Ogilvy Group

Glen Rock, N.J.

A nice start from Ogilvy and Dove

At first, for a microsecond, I was pleasantly surprised by the new Dove campaign [Adweek, Sept. 12].

Next, I thought the obvious: If this work is designed to make women feel that they don’t need to try to look like models, to chase a version of so-called “beauty” that is outside them, then there is the obvious rub of, “Then why do I need to buy anything?” I recall the Jung quote: “He who looks outside dreams. He who looks inside awakens.”

But the real frightening part of the stories was the comments of agency “professionals” who felt “skeptical” about the strategy in the first place. And that it apparently took this work to get these ad people to begin being aware of what decades of advertising have done to their fellow human beings.

Sheesh. I’m seriously glad Ogilvy did this work.

Perhaps they have asked Dove to make a serious promise to the world, a promise of a change in attitude. Yet, has Ogilvy made such a promise? Will they rethink every account and the images they produce to influence the world?

But the most practical questions might be these: Should Dove keep Ogilvy on for creating this initial powerful breakthrough? Or should Dove (and every other Ogilvy client) fire them for being critically out-of-touch, insensitive boneheads most of the time on really obvious issues to the human race?

Congratulations, Ogilvy and Dove. A very nice start. And most of all, I’m glad you’ve finally noticed something.

Paul MacFarlane


The 9.05 Experiment

St. Louis

For the record: A story about the ONDCP [Sept. 19] misstated the current budget proposals by the House of Representatives and the Senate for the anti-drug media campaign. The House proposal is $145 million, not $120 million, and the Senate proposal is $95 million, not $90 million. In Just Asking [Briefs, Sept. 19], the name of RPA’s Mark Erwin was misspelled.

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