shop talk

“Until hell freezes over and Bill Clinton is elected pope, N.W. Ayer will remain independent.”
Roy Bostock, chairman of the newly merged entity known as BDM, on the future of MacManus’ N.W. Ayer

Love in the Afternoon
Scenes from the Leo/MacManus Marriage
Leo Burnett appears to be in the driver’s seat in its merger with the MacManus Group, which may only be appropriate given the idea’s origin. It came during a real Hallmark moment, the sort of thing that has always been a Burnett specialty. In a heartwarming anecdote that fits nicely into company lore alongside legendary founder Leo Burnett’s apples and witticisms, the Leo Group’s Roger Haupt was said to be inspired to do the deal while walking on a Cape Cod beach in early September with his wife, Kay.
From that moment, Haupt was a man possessed, forming strategy with Burnetter Rick Fizdale in Chicago, talking turkey with MacManus’ Roy Bostock in New York and flying to Tokyo to meet with Dentsu leaders. Kay Haupt saw her husband so infrequently she sent him a postcard at work. “Remember me?” it read. Whatever the cost to his home life, Haupt’s preoccupation is expected to pay off handsomely. The windfall from the deal and planned IPO next year will produce one of the greatest paydays in ad history, say insiders. Some agency principals could net more than $100 million. Maybe we should all go for a walk on the beach. –Trevor Jensen

Dancing in the Dark
Remember when pop culture portrayed ad folks as happy-go-lucky? Not anymore. In fact, if you were to go out for a night at the movies or to take in a play, you would be hard-pressed to find anybody resembling Darrin Stephens of Bewitched.
Take the new dance musical Contact, which is drawing rave reviews in New York. Coming on the heels of American Beauty, which features actor Kevin Spacey as a burnt-out ad writer who spirals into depression and death, Contact tells the story of yet another ad executive. Naturally, he’s a mess, too.
In the play, Boyd Gaines portrays Michael Wiley, a man contemplating suicide despite just winning a creative award. Entering a SoHo swing club, he spies Deborah Yates, a mysterious blonde in a yellow dress. “He’s an ad executive who seems to have it all. But he’s suicidal because his life is so empty,” said Yates, who was described in one story as “Broadway’s hot new leading lady,” in a recent TV interview. The two meet on the dance floor, and the rest is history. Written by John Weidman and directed and choreographed by Susan Stroman, the play has been so successful, it’s moving to Broadway from Lincoln Center. So how does this advertising love story for the millennium turn out? We’re not saying. But don’t get depressed or anything. –M.M.

Geldof to U.K.: Do You Know It’s an E-Xmas?
Bob Geldof once tried to save the world from hunger with his Live Aid concert. Now he’s trying to save hidebound British companies from themselves.
The former Boomtown Rat recently joined WPP boss Martin Sorell, Web experts and assorted politicians at WPP’s “U.K. Internet Summit” in London. The goal of the event? To wake up the United Kingdom’s business and political leaders to the impact– and potential threat–of the “Web economy.” These days, it seems that everybody is jumping on the Web-wagon. Geldof is already there.
Fourteen years after Live Aid, Geldof used a global Webcast as the centerpiece of Net Aid. Now a co-founder of, the Irish singer declared the Internet “the new rock and roll.”
Meanwhile, Sorrell issued a blunt warning in the press the day of the event, saying, “Everybody in every industry is being challenged” by the Web. “Sadly, it is human nature to only react when there is a problem, threat or disaster,” said the WPP chief, summarizing the philosophy of many agency types as well.
Esther Dyson, so-called “grandmother” of the Internet, was at the event, but the self-proclaimed inventor of the World Wide Web, Al Gore, did not make it. –M.M.