I Would’ve Gladly Volunteered For Jury Duty

It appears the fraud and conspiracy trial against former Ogilvy executives Shona Seifert and Thomas Early will go to the jury for deliberation on Friday. Adweek’s coverage of the summations is an excellent overview of the big points both sides are making.
From what I can tell, the government has done its homework here, and through a series of witnesses, e-mail exchanges, scribbled timesheets, and datebook entries, it appears that Ogilvy folks indeed tried to make up a $3 million revenue shortfall and use subtle language so as not to make it seem so obvious.
However, the defense maintains that Seifert and Early worked diligently to get up to speed with a difficult, bureaucratic client, and that the agency negotiated free commercial time worth in excess of $20 million–providing much more value than the revenue shortfall was worth.
But in addition to numbers, we get a peek behind the curtain of the catty world of ad agency office politics. Here’s a juicy nugget from Adweek’s summary:
In an attempt to reveal cracks in Seifert’s testimony earlier this week, (assistant U.S. Attorney Lauren) Goldberg pointed to a seemingly trivial e-mail in which Seifert had made a joke about forgetting to include former contract manager Al DiOrio in a previous message. Seifert wrote that she supposed DiOrio, who was overweight, was “the same size” as everybody else when it came to e-mails.
On the stand, Seifert had insisted the remark was not a joke about DiOrio’s weight. But Goldberg said, “She couldn’t even own up to the fact she made a mean joke about Al DiOrio’s size in an e-mail.” The moment was made all the more uncomfortable for the defense because the jury had heard DiOrio ultimately died of diabetes following several amputations.

Whether all the evidence adds up to guilt or innocence in terms of fraud and conspiracy, I just don’t know. But I think the whole ad industry, which already fights used car dealers for a bottom-feeding reputation, gets a black eye here.
Besides Adweek, Ad Age, and The New York Post, I haven’t seen any other news outlets or blogs cover this case. Anyone wanna share their thoughts on this trial?

About Dan Goldgeier

Blogging on AdPulp since 2005, Dan Goldgeier is a Seattle-based freelance copywriter with experience at advertising agencies across the U.S. He is a graduate of the Creative Circus ad school, and currently teaches at Seattle's School of Visual Concepts. In addition, he is a regular columnist for TalentZoo.com. Dan published the best of his TalentZoo.com columns in a book entitled View From The Cheap Seats: A Broader Look at Advertising, Marketing, Branding, Global Politics, Office Politics, Sexual Politics, and Getting Drunk During a Job Interview. Look for it on Amazon in paperback and e-book editions.


  1. That reported defence of the $20m of free media seems like a giant red herring to me.

  2. One year, Burnett was supposedly unable to make a profit on the Samsonite luggage account, which billed $18,000,000, and all they had to do for the money (other than buy the media) was create and produce about three tv commercials and three or four print ads. Does this spell waste, incompetence or mismanagement? Maybe all three. In any case, it is endemic in advertising, and always has been.
    This same waste, incompetence and mismanagement often leads to court dates for the individuals involved (see: U.S. Army vs Grey Advertising a few years back) so it is no surprise.