Quicktime Art Imitates Life

An e-mail video is generating plenty of comedic pathos these days around the offices of Publicis Groupe’s D’Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles, which will be dismantled by year’s end.

In the 94-second movie, which sources say originated in the U.K., tense staffers draw a supervisor out of his office for a word about whether they’ll be laid off. The manager nervously tells them he’s got “some good news and some bad news.” The bad news is the company will be taken over. Some people will lose their jobs, and others will have to relocate to “Swindon.” The staffers groan as the manager winces in sympathy and says, “Yeah, gutting, gutting.”

The good news, though, is the manager is being promoted. “A silver cloud,” he beams, but one staffer corrects him: “That’s not good news, it’s irrelevant news.” But the manager shoots back, “I can’t come out and say, ‘I have some bad news and some irrelevant news!’ ” Studying the sea of shocked faces, he reasons, “Hmm, I should have told you the good news first to keep you happy.”

D’Arcy staffers awaiting word of layoffs have been forwarding the movie around the agency, seeing similarities between the supervisor and D’Arcy chairman and CEO John Farrell, who has accepted a comfy position as CEO of Publicis SAMS. One difference between the fictional manager and the real one, however, is that the latter hasn’t communicated anything to his staff.