If You Were Howard Draft, What Would You Do Today?

The Chicago Tribune, which I think rarely publishes interesting stories about the ad world compared to the Sun-Times’ inimitable Lewis Lazare, ponders the immediate future of DraftFCB:

DraftFCB needs to act quickly to restore its reputation, say public relations experts who specialize in crisis communications.
If Draft and his team determine the agency did nothing wrong, they should write a strongly worded letter to Wal-Mart and make it public, sending copies to their clients, prospective clients and employees, advised Robert Dilenschneider, head of the Dilenschneider Group in New York.
“They’ve been fired. They have nothing to lose,” he said in an interview Friday.
If Draft concludes the agency did cross a line somewhere, he should express outrage and remove the people involved, Dilenschneider said. Draft also should ask Wal-Mart to reconsider its stand that DraftFCB won’t be allowed to bid in the new competition for the giant discount chain’s account.
“They shouldn’t wait until Monday. They should do it today,” Dilenschneider said.

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. Why doesn’t Wal-Mart just bring their account inside where they can control costs and dictate “creative”?

  2. It will be interesting to see how Draft/FCB plays this. Perhaps they will take the offensive this week. On the other hand, if Draft/FCB management was in the right, why didn’t it take a stronger stand in the e-mail to employees?
    Nowhere did management say the agency had done nothing to deserve its dismissal. Nowhere did they show any sense of anger, which one would expect if they were truly wronged. Instead, they “were disappointed”. They sidestepped any details of what happened, and fell back upon the empty, let’s move ahead, it’s an exciting time jingoism. Experience says when upper management doesn’t stand tall internally, it won’t do so externally – usually because they did make mistakes and fear admitting so will further upset the apple cart. Even after the Wal-Mart “win”, employee morale was less than stellar.
    As for removing the employees responsible, it begs the question of whether Draft might have to fire himself. Everything leaking out points to his being one of the key, poor decision makers.
    Most interesting was a quote from an IPG Public Relations rep when asked if the holding company had faith in Draft/FCB’s management – “That’s a good question,” he replied. After a few hours, he delivered the stock answer that all was well, but for a PR professional to respond in such a way is fairly unheard of.

  3. Well, as so many others on so many blogs have already stated, Draft FCB simply got caught “breaking the rules.” As the rules are not legal mandates (i.e., on the level of Ogilvy’s infamous billing scandal that led to jail time), no one is crying for justice.
    Only the most naïve among us would believe others, including GSDM, haven’t executed similar tactics to woo clients. Most of us have witnessed far worse offenses. Don’t mean to excuse the indiscretions, but new business pitches have always been based on an “All’s fair in love and war” mentality.
    It really looks like Draft FCB identified Roehm as the key decision maker and played to her whims. Once she got booted, there were no other asses at Wal-Mart for Draft to kiss. So there’s no need to seek vindication, or even a shot at the new shootout. Pushing for more details only creates more potential controversy. Even an agency run by complete morons would know better than to pursue a situation like this any further.
    Based on the Howard Draft ego legends, it’s unlikely the man will take counsel from a local newspaper reporter or blogger; otherwise, Lewis Lazare and George Parker would be leading the Draft FCB board of directors. Don’t hold your breath.
    Draft FCB has no reason to air its dirty laundry on this one. And it’s probably true that Draft himself approved the Cannes ad.