Shop Talk

“You’re All Fired!”
Tom Carroll Pink-Slips Lee Clow and Gang
Memo to all shops: Want to get your staffers’ attention? Very quickly? Fire everybody! That was the stunt employed by Tom Carroll, CEO of TBWA/Chiat/Day’s flagship Playa del Rey, Calif., shop, to kick off the agency’s “Reboot Camp” last week. It all started last Monday morning when TBWA’s 500-plus staffers found a surprise waiting for them. Sitting on all desks–including that of global chairman and creative guru Lee Clow–were pink slips hand-delivered by a bunch of local “Gen Y” school kids.
“We regret to inform you that you have been terminated as an employee Thank you for your contributions to the agency and we wish you the best of luck in the future,” read the pink slip. When the staffers reported to the conference area, Carroll told them they had been replaced–by kids more familiar with the Internet. They could have their jobs back but only if they were willing to “rethink” how the shop would operate in the digital future. The stunt helped get “Reboot” week (described as a “cross between an interactive convention and high-school pep rally”) off to a flying start.
Carroll almost landed Jay Chiat as keynote speaker. “I told Jay, ‘I’m going to fire every person at the agency, including Lee,'” Carroll tells ShopTalk. “Jay said, ‘I don’t know what you’re up to. But I like it!'”–M.M. and Angela Dawson
Forbidden Planet
“Omnicom Unveils TLPlanet” no, it doesn’t yes, it does I SAID: NO, IT DOESN’T! Trying to pin down the name of TLP, the $420 million Dallas shop owned by Omnicom, last week was like trying to catch a greased pig at a picnic. Here’s our story: First, a triumphant press release arrived in Adweek’s Southwest bureau heralding a name change from the staid “TLP Inc.” to the more snazzy “TLPlanet”–a moniker meant to reflect the shop’s “best of planet” capabilities. The rest of the two-pager was chock full of comments from the likes of
Omnicom’s Tom Harrison, TLP CEO Gary VonKennel and client Anne MacDonald from Citibank supporting the switch. Simple stuff, right? Wrong. TLP’s PR rep called us asking to “recall” the release due to an “error.” The mistake? That it was sent out at all! Turns out the name police at the normally hands-off Omnicom didn’t care for TLP’s galactic new name–and had not given the green light to make the change. So what’s going on? Harrison finally cleared the confusion on Thursday, stating unequivocally there will be “no name change.” Noted the DAS chief: “It’s not going to be ‘TLPlanet.’ We’ve decided to go in a different direction.” TLP executive Elwanda Edwards says, “This isn’t like a big-news scoop here. The release just went out a little early.” Somebody forgot to tell the operators manning TLP’s switchboard. When we rang them last week, one answered with a breezy, “TLPlanet!” Houston, we have a problem. –J. Dee Hill
the lads are all right: Ed Needham on “Beer, Babes and Football”
Magazine watchers are eagerly awaiting the looming donnybrook in the men’s sector, where British import FHM (For Him Magazine) rolls out a U.S. edition in February. Ed Needham, editor of the U.K’s leading men’s title who was named editor-in-chief of the new U.S. book, says FHM is planning a variety of advertising and marketing initiatives to make a splash. But he’s mum on details about advertising and shops.
“We want to keep our powder dry,” says Needham, 35, who rejects the “beer, babes and football” and “lads book” labels hung on magazines like FHM. “The only ones who call us that are media writers,” he says. “If you look at FHM, there’s no beer, there’s no football and the women are sexy, smart and cool.”
While some view FHM’s launch as a direct face-off with red-hot British import Maxim, Needham counters that FHM is a global brand that’s successful around the world. What’s the
difference between the two, Ed? “We’re a window on the world. They’re a window on the locker room,” says the award-winning editor. “FHM covers everything that men like, worry about and spend money on. Maxim’s approach–and it’s been very successful–has been to say, ‘It’s OK to be a guy. As long you’re our kind of guy.'”
Needham is looking forward to going mano a mano with former colleague turned Maxim editor Mike Soutar, who gave him his start at age 29. “I like times of turmoil. It makes life more interesting.” Ah, there’s a lad. –M.M.
“If you have to create a slogan or a new logo for yourself, then your agency brand is in a lot of trouble.”
Donny Deutsch on the recent slew of agency name changes and branding initiatives.